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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

What's eating Carroll? A banned school book

Monday, November 27, 2006

A critically acclaimed book has been yanked from a high school literature class in Carroll, after the school district's superintendent said the book has inappropriate sexual content.

Carroll Schools' Superintendent Rob Cordes hasn't read all of "What's Eating Gilbert Grape?" but says a scene in which the book's protagonist, Gilbert Grape, receives sexual attention from an older, married woman is out of bounds for high school students.

Cordes says a parent expressed concerns about the book, which has been taught in Carroll High School's literature-to-film class, which also includes books such as John Grisham's "The Firm."

"What's Eating Gilbert Grape?" was written by Peter Hedges, an Iowan, and has been taught in Carroll for several years.

"I believe there's some material in there that's inappropriate," Cordes said.

Others aren't convinced. Carroll High School teacher-librarian Kelly Fischbach said the book deserves to be judged in its entirety, not for a few sentences.

"It's a great book," Fischbach said. "Kids love it. Boys who are at risk love it - you know, the people whose test scores (reading comprehension) we're trying to raise."

Fischbach said the novel by Hedges, a West Des Moines native, connects with rural Iowa teens. "It's a story about a boy in Iowa who is stuck in a job that's going nowhere, living in a dysfunctional family," Fischbach said.

Cordes says the issue in the high school is a curriculum one, not a matter of censorship. Fischbach said the school library still has 25 copies of "What's Eating Gilbert Grape?" which students can check out of their own accord - 13 of which were checked out by students at the time of the decision.

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