School Library Journal Reviews!

Two, count two, great reviews from School Library Journal:

Gr 8 Up–A well-researched docu-comic. Covering topics such as comics, games, technology, and play, the chapters begin with a historical perspective on each subject. The authors then go on to explain how time after time, as new pastimes develop, they gain in popularity with youth until they enter the public limelight and are deemed potentially harmful to children. For example, the section on games begins with a description of the earliest archaeological discovery of dice and includes a reference to the poet Horace, who warned of the negative impact on youth who gamble with dice. The chapter explores the evolution of games and describes instances of adults trying to protect children from their negative impact, including Scientific American cautioning parents about chess in the mid-19th century and the attempts to legislate against Dungeons and Dragons and video-arcade games in the 1980s. In an examination of the current controversy about video games being responsible for violent behavior, the authors use countless scientific studies and other research as well as court cases to expose the fallacy behind the fear. Black-and-white graphic panels illustrate the text succinctly and add humor. Resources and references are included, with a more extensive list of references supplied on the book’s website. Pyle and Cunningham argue that under the guise of protecting children, adults have created a youth-phobic society, in which “fear of the new” is the overriding impulse. They attempt to expose this mind-set and encourage readers to think critically about what is supposedly bad for them. This book is funny, mind-boggling, entertaining, and completely educational. Make sure every teen gets a copy.

AND:

Who knew to what extent that some adults and the U.S. Government went to correlate comic books to crime and tried to regulate (and ban) them during the years 1948 to 1955? During this period, comic-book burning occurred across the nation. One person behind it was Dr. Frederic Wertham, a psychiatrist who claimed that “…as long as the crime comic books industry exists in its present form there are no secure homes.” Pyle and Cunningham discuss the scientific method (which Wertham never used) and cite other, tangential studies on comic books that turn Wertham’s theories upside down. Societal fears about the effects of Harry Potter, games, technology, and play are considered in the same manner. A variety of black-and-white illustrations, including graphic panels, maps, and charts are utilized. Classroom uses for this title abound. Teens, particularly fans of the graphic format, will glom onto this fascinating book, which will give them one more reason not to trust the “establishment.”

The second is part of a great roundup by Daryl Grabarek of books that connect well to classroom curricula.

THE TWELFTH NAY OF CHRISTMAS: STUBBS THE ZOMBIE

Bad For You’s special Christmas countdown of twelve of the weirdest, most outrageous, totally craziest bans, blocks, recalls and protests ever over toys. We’re not saying some of them aren’t earned, but do you think ALL of these toys are dangerous? 

WHY IT WAS FUN: Hey, everyone loves zombies – just look how many movies and TV shows feature the creatures. In this particular video game, the really cool part was that it turned the whole horror genre around by letting the player become the brain-munching monster, roaming the city, hunting humans. Stubbs was also one of the first horror games to use humor as part of the action – leading to what the game’s creator called “funny results.”

WHY IT WAS BAD: According to the National Institute on Media and the Family, Stubbs was encouraging cannibalism in kids! “It’s something we’ve never seen before,” NIMF told a crowd at their 2005 press conference to announce their annual “Games to Avoid” that year. Stubbs supposedly send “the worst kind of message to kids” and was “dangerous to your children’s health.” While the organization never had the power to actually ban a video game, for 15 years NIMF would post the list a few weeks before Christmas, hoping to scare parents away from purchasing them as gifts for their kids.Over a hundred video games made NIMF’s “Games to Avoid” over the years, some of which were super popular, including Doom, Grand Theft Auto and Halo. All these games mentioned so far were rated M for Mature. Which means they’re for 17-year-olds and not kids – so what exactly was NIMF so worked up about? By the way, the group dis-banned in 2009. Ho-Ho-Ho.

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And now that you know how dangerous toys can be…

 

HAVE A VERY WARY CHRISTMAS!

THE ELEVENTH NAY OF CHRISTMAS: EA SPORTS MIXED MARTIAL ARTS

Bad For You’s special Christmas countdown of twelve of the weirdest, most outrageous, totally craziest bans, blocks, recalls and protests ever over toys. We’re not saying some of them aren’t earned, but do you think ALL of these toys are dangerous? 

WHY IT WAS FUN: Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is a brutal fighting game where players can pretend to punch, stomp, kick, knee-slam, elbow and karate chop the heck out of their opponents! But unlike the real cage matches the game is based on, if you get pounded by another player in this virtual world, it only pain you feel is your hurt pride.

WHY IT WAS BAD: Think it was banned because of its violence? Wrong. In Denmark, the marketing of energy drinks is prohibited, which just so happens to be the product heavily promoted throughout the game. But Venezuela did become the first country to ban all violent video games. Then-president Hugo Chavez called Nintendo DS and PlayStation “poison” (a different kind of toxic toy). PlayStation is also illegal in China. The Communist country believes its a waste of time (wonder what they think of Hula-hoops and Pokeman?).

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THE TENTH NAY OF CHRISTMAS: POKÉMON TRADING CARD GAME

Bad For You’s special Christmas countdown of twelve of the weirdest, most outrageous, totally craziest bans, blocks, recalls and protests ever over toys. We’re not saying some of them aren’t earned, but do you think ALL of these toys are dangerous? 

WHY THEY WERE FUN: There are now over 718 “revealed” species of the title “pocket monsters” franchise – which can also be divided up into “generations” of games. Think about it, the variations are almost endless. And yet, somehow, if a kid gets obsessed with them, they’ve got to try to complete the set – or in Pokemon parlance, they “gotta catch ’em all.” It becomes an all-consuming goal for a kid. It’s…addicting.

WHY THEY WERE BAD: Same reason. According to Saudi Arabia’s highest religious authority, which issued the edict banning Pokemon games in 2001, they “possessed the minds” of young folks, causing them to “spend all their money to buy the cards and compete with each other to win more.” Well, duh – that’s the point!

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THE EIGHTH NAY OF CHRISTMAS: HOMER SIMPSON DOLL

Bad For You’s special Christmas countdown of twelve of the weirdest, most outrageous, totally craziest bans, blocks, recalls and protests ever over toys. We’re not saying some of them aren’t earned, but do you think ALL of these toys are dangerous? 

WHY IT WAS FUN: It’s The Simpsons.

WHY IT WAS BAD: Because, as everyone knows, Homer Simpson is the ultimate promoter of “Western culture” – which is a terrible thing if you live in Iran (at least according to the country’s Institute for the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults). Barbie dolls are also banned for the same crime of promoting “Western culture.” Iran does allow Superman and Spider-Man toys into their country because superheroes help the “oppressed” (so, that part of Western Culture is OK).

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THE SEVENTH NAY OF CHRISTMAS: FURBY

Bad For You’s special Christmas countdown of twelve of the weirdest, most outrageous, totally craziest bans, blocks, recalls and protests ever over toys. We’re not saying some of them aren’t earned, but do you think ALL of these toys are dangerous

WHY IT WAS FUN: Because it was both a huggable furry whatchamacallit and a robot plaything which (supposedly) learned to progressively adopt the language of the people around it (originally, the dolls only speak their native tongue of Furbish). Furbies were the “must-have” toys of Christmas 1998 and ’99; nearly 16 million critters were sold.

WHY IT WAS BAD: Isn’t it obvious? What if a Furby happened to be hanging around an American secret agent? And what if that American secret agent was talking government secrets in front of the doll? And what if the doll learned those secrets and started repeating them? And what if another secret agent from a rival country of America’s stole that doll and learned those secrets! Sounds like the plot of a bad movie…but the National Security Agency – America’s biggest spy team – believed it was possible. That’s why they banned all Furbies from NSA headquarters in 1999. Only…Furbies don’t actually learn a new language. That’s just hype. In reality, they’re just dumb little dolls with a pre-programmed 100 word list that they slowly begin to use, giving the impression that they are learning to speak English. Hmm…maybe the dangerous part of this story is that America’s biggest spy agency, in charge of gathering intelligence on people, wasn’t intelligent enough to figure out how Furbies worked!

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