The Muscogee County School District's media committee postponed hearing a parent's complaint on the book "My Brother Sam Is Dead" Wednesday when the parent didn't show up and by phone said she wasn't notified of the meeting.
The committee decided it would not discuss or deliberate on the issue without first hearing from Shirley Waller, who complained that the Revolutionary War novel her daughter got from the Reese Road Elementary School library has too much profanity.
The novel by writer James Lincoln Collier and historian Christopher Collier tells the story of the Meeker family through the eyes of the youngest son, 14-year-old Tim Meeker. It has won critical acclaim for its dramatic prose and historical accuracy, and for its relevance to instruction in history and civics.
But Waller, who said her 9-year-old daughter told her, "Mama, this book's got cussing all in it," thought the book's occasional use of profanity was inappropriate.
“It’s not about the book itself. It’s that books like that can get into my daughter’s hands,” she said Tuesday. Her daughter is in fourth grade at Reese Road Elementary, which has two copies of the novel. The district has a total of 23 copies in its school libraries.
Waller lodged a formal complaint about the book, requesting that it be removed from all schools. In her written complaint she acknowledged she was unaware of any literary criticism regarding the book, though she personally thought "the story is fine."
On the back of her complaint form, Waller listed 19 terms from the book she found objectionable. Fourteen were the word "damn" or some variation of it.
Because Waller was not told of the district media committee meeting Wednesday, the matter was postponed a week. The committee's to meet again next Wednesday, Feb. 25, at 1 p.m. at 1 p.m. in Room 106 of the Old Bradley Library.
The committee's options include leaving the book as is, removing it, restricting access to it without parental permission, or moving it from elementary to middle school libraries.