Author defends controversial book for teens

Newstalk ZB 30 June 2013
The author of a controversial novel for teens is defending his book as appropriate for the readers he wrote it for. Ted Dawe received top prize at the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards for his young adult novel Into the River, which contains sex, swearing and drug references. Lobby group Family First want the prize revoked because the book’s inappropriate for young people, while some booksellers are refusing to stock it. But Mr Dawe says the book is aimed at teens over 15, and he intended to provide them with insights into real world experiences. He is making no apology for the content, saying the story needs to be told. The book with a sticker warning about its “explicit content”, with expletives including the c-word.

Call for award to be withdrawn

But there’s been a call for the controversial children’s book to have its award withdrawn. The novel is described by lobby group Family First’s national director Bob McCoskrie as completely inappropriate for young people, and he says it will shock most parents. He claims the awards judges have completely lost the plot. Mr McCoskrie says his group questions the wisdom of the School Library Association for thinking it might be appropriate. He says the book is offensive, especially when it’s targeted at kids as young as 11. “I think every New Zealander would be saying ‘What were the judges thinking?’. “And I really got to ask questions about the schools library association for thinking that it might be appropriate. it just seems like authors are out to pollute the moral innocence of kids.” Mr McCoskrie wants the New Zealand Post Award for the book to be withdrawn. “It’s adult rated material and it shouldn’t even be in school libraries at all and it certainly shouldn’t be winning awards for books that are supposed to be targeted ay our young people. “I don’t think parents would be at all happy with that type of marketing towards our kids.” Owner of Newmarket’s Arcadia Books, Doris Mousdale says a children’s novel shouldn’t need a warning sticker. She’s refused to stock the book, which contains foul language including the ‘c’ word, graphic sexual material, and drug taking.