Ellen Hopkins: Young Adult Author Gets Uninvited To Book Festival, Igniting Protests
The Teen Lit Fest in Humble is a huge deal for renowned writers of young adult fiction and the kids they're writing for. Which is why it's a huge deal that half of the authors have dropped out of the January 2011 festival.
Ellen Hopkins: Humble doesn't want you
It all started when an Humble ISD librarian complained to some influential parents about New York Times bestselling author Ellen Hopkins, who was scheduled to appear at the festival. (Hopkins writes about cheery subjects like drug addiction, suicide, and religious intolerance.)
Those parents then allegedly bent the ear of Superintendent Guy Sconzo, who ordered another librarian to uninvite Hopkins -- even though she had already appeared at two
of the festivals Humble-area high schools, without causing any of the teenagers to slit their wrists, become pregnant, or turn to prostitution to subsidize chronic substance-abuse problems.
When fellow writer and invitee Pete Hautman heard about it, he decided to drop out of the festival, and, according to his blog three more writers have dropped out -- Melissa de la Cruz, Tara Lynn Childs and Matt de la Pena.
"They're standing against censorship," Hopkins says of the other authors. While it may have started as a show of solidarity, she says, it's more about opposing something that could happen to them as well.
As Hautman writes: "What is important is that a handful of people...took it upon themselves to overrule the vast majority of teachers and librarians who had chosen one of he most popular YA authors in America to be their headliner. That is a form of censorship as damaging and inexcusable as setting fire to a library."
Hopkins said her previous appearances in Humble were extremely successful and fun. And she says she's been getting a lot of support from Houston-area teens.
We left a message for Superintendent Sconzo and have sought comment from the Humble Education Foundation, which is listed as a sponsor on the event's woefully underdeveloped blog, and will update if/when we hear back. (Someone needs to update the event's Facebook page as well, seeing as how, like, most of the authors ain't showing up no more.)
We're not sure if they'll be able to schedule any replacement authors, but if they do, we strongly recommend they get the woman responsible for Latawnya, the Naughty Horse, Learns to Say 'No' to Drugs. At least when she writes about drugs, she has the common decency to do so with anthropomorphic equines. Now that's a literary concept even the most clueless superintendent or backward librarian can get behind.