Stephenie Meyer, the hottest author for young people since J.K. Rowling, has a new link to the creator of "Harry Potter": a place high on the list of books most complained about by parents and educators.
Meyer's multimillion-selling "Twilight" series was ranked No. 5 on the annual report of "challenged books" released Wednesday by the American Library Assn. Meyer's stories of vampires and teen romance have been criticized for sexual content; a library association official also thinks that the "Twilight" series reflects general unease about supernatural stories.
"Vampire novels have been a target for years, and the ‘Twilight' books are so immensely popular that a lot of the concerns people have had about vampires are focused on her books," says Barbara Jones, director of the association's Office for Intellectual Freedom.
Christian groups for years have protested the themes of wizardry in Rowling's books, none of which appears in the current top 10.
Topping the 2009 chart was Lauren Myracle's "IM" series, novels told through instant messages that have been criticized for nudity, language and drug references. The No. 1 book from the previous year, "And Tango Makes Three," by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson, is now No. 2, cited again for its story about two male penguins adopting a baby. Third was Stephen Chbosky's "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," for which the many reasons include drugs, suicide, homosexuality and being anti-family.
Also cited were such perennials as J.D. Salinger's "The Catcher in the Rye" (sexual content, language), Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird" (language, racism), Alice Walker's "The Color Purple" (sexual content, language) and Robert Cormier's "The Chocolate War" (nudity, language, sexual content).
The ALA recorded 460 challenges in 2009, a drop from 513 the year before, and 81 books actually being removed. The ALA defines a challenge as a "formal, written complaint filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness."
For every challenge tallied, about four or five end up unreported, according to the ALA.