A review committee removed Stuck in the Middle:  Seventeen Comics from an Unpleasant Age, an anthology collecting comic stories about middle school, from the student libraries of two Sioux Falls, South Dakota middle schools, according to a report in the Sioux Falls Argus Leader (the article was titled “Middle schools yank graphic cartoon book”).

The action was taken after a complaint from the mother of a sixth grader, who was concerned about “repeated foul language, sexual references and pictures of teenagers smoking,” according to the review committee report quoted by the Leader.   The book was placed in staff collections, meaning that it can be checked out by teachers for use in classrooms, but students do not have access.

Ariel Schrag, who edited the collection, defended the content of concern.  “I find it very hard to believe that a child would hear a swear word for the very first time in the book, or that he or she would be made aware that teenagers sometimes have sexual relationships or smoke cigarettes,” she said.  “The only thing that can make an impact in the way children act is communication, and this book provides a platform for that.”

Schrag urged that the choice be left to the parents, rather than removing access to the title by students.  “The bottom line, to me, is that it's good that this mother is aware of what her child is reading, but she should trust that other parents can make the same judgments about their children's readiness for such a book.”

The 2007 collection, published by Viking, includes work by Daniel Clowes, Aaron Reiner, and Lauren Weinstein.  It’s listed as appropriate for ages 12 and up by the publisher, which would include most, but not all of the students at a 6-8 middle school.

For Ariel Schrag’s full statement, click here.