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Kindersley school reverses ban on book

According to a release from Sono Nis Press, author Nikki Tate was relieved to learn that Elizabeth School in Kindersley, Saskatchewan, which had previously banned her children’s book Trouble on Tarragon Island, has reversed its decision and “un-banned” it after a new school principal re-evaluated the content.

Sono Nis told Q&Q Omni this summer that the book had been deemed a problem because it contains a scene of bullying and because the bullying includes words that may be offensive to women.

Tate’s book, the third in her Tarragon Island series about protagonist Heather Blake, depicts a battle in Blake’s B.C. community over clear-cut logging. Blake’s grandmother joins an anti-logging activist group, and poses naked with them for a calendar, embarrassing her granddaughter. At the beginning of the book’s first chapter, several boys in Blake’s school taunt her about her grandmother’s breasts, calling them “bazoongas” and cupping melon-shaped areas around their chests.

The scene, Tate told Q&Q Omni, “sets up the central conflict of the book, which is asking the question, ‘when you step outside the rules of society … what is the impact on your community and on your family?’” Tate said the description shows the pain experienced by Heather as a result of the bullying. “It’s pretty obvious these kids aren’t being held up as an example of fine behaviour,” she said.

Elizabeth School administrators now seem to have come around to seeing it that way too.

Trouble on Tarragon Island has been nominated for a Diamond Willow Award in Saskatchewan, and Tate is participating in a TD Canadian Children’s Book Week tour in the province this month. As a part of the tour, she had planned to give away copies of her book to elementary students in Kindersley, and she says she will still go ahead with the give-away now that the ban has been reversed. She will sign copies of the book and chat with students at an informal event at the Kindersley Mall on Nov. 19.