Pulitzer Prize winners, fantasy series, manga adaptations among books removed from PENNCREST libraries

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Mar. 8—HAYFIELD TOWNSHIP — The approximately 25,000 books in PENNCREST School District's three high schools remain largely unchanged since the approval of a new policy restricting library materials, but the shelves are missing one Pulitzer Prize winner, a bestselling fantasy series, and several short novels inspired by a Japanese manga series.

Still to be determined is whether novels by Stephen King, Sherman Alexie and Richard Wright make it back to the shelves.

"We're doing our best to slowly comb through those books of concern," Superintendent Tim Glasspool said Tuesday following a meeting of PENNCREST School Board's education committee. "As staff believe books violate policy 109.2, they send a copy of that book to the assistant superintendent, who reviews the specific concern and then the central office determines if it is a violation."

Approved in January, the library materials policy that Glasspool referred to prohibits materials that include "visual or visually implied depictions of sexual acts or simulations of such acts; explicit written depictions of sexual acts; or visual depictions of nudity — not including materials with diagrams about anatomy for science or content relating to classical works of art."

As of Tuesday, 18 books had been removed from PENNCREST libraries, according to a list that Glasspool sent to The Meadville Tribune. Another 11 books remain under review.

Among those removed are Alice Walker's Pulitzer-winning 1982 novel, "The Color Purple," and "The Bluest Eye," the 1970 novel that was the first by Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison. "The Kite Runner," a 2003 novel by Khaled Hosseini, who is now a Goodwill Envoy for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, is also among the books removed. Hosseini's second novel, "A Thousand Splendid Suns," remains under review.

The missing books are not all award winners by critically acclaimed authors, however. Also among the removed are the first four books of Sarah Maas' fantasy series "A Court of Thorns and Roses" (the district's online catalog shows that it does not own the fifth book, which was published in 2021). The books are among 11 Maas works in district libraries; two others are still under review. The district catalog describes the "interest level" for all of the books as "young adult."

Volumes two, four and five of the "My Hero Academia" series by Anri Yoshi were also removed. The books are novelizations based on a Japanese comic series. Three novels in the Louise Rennison's Georgia Nicolson series, which recounts the adolescent hijinks — including "snogging," boyfriends and more — of a headstrong British teen, were also removed.

Assistant Superintendent Ken Newman, who is tasked with coordinating the review process, said that some books arrive in his office with specific passages denoted by Post-it notes while others must be read from cover to cover.

"I've been using a lot of the online book reviews to look for things," he said. "If something comes up on there, then I dig into the book."

One important goal of the process, Newman added, is "to make sure that everybody is heard."

There's another benefit for Newman personally, he added.

"I'm being a good model," he said, smiling. "My kids are seeing me read books at home."

Books removed from circulation in PENNCREST School District libraries:

"L8r, g8r" by Lauren Myracle

"Nineteen Minutes" by Jodi Picoult

"Looking for Alaska" by John Green

"The Color Purple" by Alice Walker

"Monday's Not Coming" by Tiffany D. Jackson

"Water for Elephants" by Sara Gruen

"The Kite Runner" by Khaled Hosseini

"On the Bright Side, I'm now the Girlfriend of a Sex God: Confessions of Georgia Nicolson" by Louise Rennison

"Dancing in My Nuddy-Pants: Even Further Confessions of Georgia Nicolson" by Louise Rennison

"Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging: Confessions of Georgia Nicolson" by Louise Rennison

"The Perks of Being a Wallflower" by Stephen Chbosky

"The Bluest Eye" by Toni Morrison

"A Court of Thorns and Roses" by Sarah J. Maas

"A Court of Mist and Fury" by Sarah J. Maas

"A Court of Wings and Ruin" by Sarah J. Maas

"A Court of Frost and Starlight" by Sarah J. Maas

"Sex" by Tamara L. Roleff

"My Hero Academia" (vol. 2, 4, 5) by Anri Yoshi

Books currently under review by district administrators:

"Under the Dome" by Stephen King

"Tilt" by Ellen Hopkins

"A Thousand Splendid Suns" by Khaled Hosseini

"All the Bright Places" by Jennifer Niven

"Native Son" by Richard Wright

"Th1rteen R3asons Why" by Jay Asher

"The Absolute Diary of a Part-Time Indian" by Sherman Alexie

"Rumble" by Ellen Hopkins

"Glass" by Ellen Hopkins

"The Assassin's Blade" by Sarah J. Maas

"Empire of Storms" by Sarah J. Maas

Mike Crowley can be reached at (814) 724-6370 or by email at mcrowley@meadvilletribune.com.