IMAGE: Mackler book
Candlewick Press
Carolyn Mackler’s book “The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things” frankly addresses body image, date rape and self-mutilation.
updated 1/11/2006 1:11:00 PM ET 2006-01-11T18:11:00

A county school chief who banned a popular novel for young people because of profane language and sexual content said he will allow it in high school libraries, but not middle schools.

Carroll County Superintendent Charles I. Ecker, had “The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things” pulled in October after skimming it. At the time, he said he would decide whether to have it permanently removed after reading it completely.

Ecker said Tuesday he still objects to the book’s profanity and sexual references but decided that high school students are mature enough to read it. He said he had considered e-mails and letters from supporters and opponents, and the publisher’s recommendation of the book for students 14 and older.

“One thing I hope to come out of this is that parents will be concerned or inquire about what their children are reading,” Ecker said.

The book chronicles the life of an overweight, 15-year-old New York City girl who struggles to relate to her family and her peers. In addition to body image and teen romance, the book explores self-mutilation, date rape and eating disorders.

The author, Carolyn Mackler, has said she wanted to portray teenagers’ experiences realistically, and that the language and sexual content are a way of showing her teenage readers that she understands how they relate to each other.

She told The Baltimore Sun in a story published Wednesday that she applauds Ecker for being open-minded and listening to the arguments on both sides.

However, she expressed disappointment at the book being banned from middle schools, saying those students need access to “honest books that encourage empowerment and healthy self-esteem.”

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