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A Tennessee school district’s controversial ban on the Holocaust graphic novel mouse appears to have spurred efforts to get copies into the hands of more readers across the country.
News of the unanimous vote by the McMinn County School Board to eliminate mouse from its curriculum, and replacing it with something else, earlier this month made headlines last week as the world prepared to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning book tells the story of author Art Spiegelman’s relationship with his father, a Holocaust survivor, by depicting Jews as mice and Nazis as cats. The school board reportedly objected to eight profanities and images of a nude woman used in the description of the author’s mother’s suicide.
Spiegelman told NPR and WBUR Here and now that the board’s decision “is not good for their children, even though they think it is.
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Anti-Defamation League, the NAACP and other groups have criticized the ban, pointing to the important role the book, which was originally published in serial form beginning in the 1980s, plays in teaching students about the Holocaust.
mouse now it appears to be in even greater demand, and in some cases supply, in Tennessee and beyond. Online sales are skyrocketing and several bookstores are giving away free copies to students.
Spiegelman told CNBC he was encouraged by the response, noting that it’s not the first of its kind.
“The school board could have consulted with its predecessor who banned the books, [Russian President] Vladimir Putin,” he wrote. “He made the Russian edition of Maus illegal in 2015 (also with good intentions, banning swastikas) and the small publisher immediately sold out and had to repeatedly reprint.”
The backlash to the ban has spurred book sales and donations.
As criticism of the ban spread across the internet, it seems many readers were quick to order copies for themselves.
the complete mouse it had been the number one bestseller on Amazon’s online bookstore on Monday morning, rising from seventh place on Friday. The top three sellers in the “Literary Graphic Novels” section are The complete Maus, Maus I Y Maus II.
Other booksellers are taking steps to get the book and its important message to more readers.
Ryan Higgins, a California comic book store owner, offered via Twitter to donate up to 100 copies of the complete mouse to families in the McMinn County area. illustrator mitch gerads and screenwriter Gary Whitta have made similar offers.
Fairytales Bookstore and More in Nashville partners with school librarians to give away free copies of mouse to local students, and patrons are encouraged to donate to the cause at a reduced price.
Nirvana Comics in Knoxville announced last week that it had started a program to lend or donate a copy of the book to any student who requests it and, within a day, had received donations from around the world.
He subsequently started an online fundraising page to support student copy purchases locally and nationally, and has nearly quadrupled his financial goal with more than $79,000 raised as of Monday morning. Organizers said all additional funds will go to state and local organizations to help support untold stories.
“We thought this would be local support to help keep a great piece of literature in the hands of students in McMinn County,” they wrote Saturday. “But… this has become a world priority!”
Rich Davis, owner of Nirvana Comics who ran the campaign, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that because the county is only home to about 50,000 people, the large amount of support could make it possible to “donate a copy of ‘Maus’ to every child in McMinn County.”
Educators and community institutions are also taking action
Others are making an effort to help the community deal with the lessons of mouse and what its elimination from the curriculum represents.
Scott Denham, a professor of German and Holocaust studies at Davidson College in North Carolina, offers a free online course for McMinn County eighth graders and high school students who are interested in reading the mouse books.
“I have taught Spiegelman’s books many times in my Holocaust courses over many years,” he wrote on a website created for the course.
Denham referred to the course as “a work in progress” that will only be open to McMinn County students who request it. It will involve asynchronous tools like a discussion blog and video mini-conferences, as well as live spaces like Zoom meetings.
Denham expects the primary texts to be wow i Y Maus II but it says it could also include metamao if available at the county’s EG Fisher Public Library, which “has begun receiving donated copies of books thanks to many generous people.”
Author Nancy Levine aware a note on Twitter that he said he was from the public library, saying he had received many offers to buy mouse and expects to see “several copies arriving in the next few days.”
In lieu of additional copies, the library requests monetary donations to support its “collection, educational programming, and access to the Internet and technology.”
There are other community events in the works.
Spiegelman told CNBC that his conference agent is trying to coordinate a public Zoom event for the McMinn County area, where he will “talk and answer questions about mouse with local citizens (hopefully teachers, students, clergy, etc.) in the next two weeks.”
Meanwhile, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in McMinn County plans to hold a discussion event of its own on Thursday.
Organizers told NBC affiliate WIBR that many churches may view the events the book describes as “none of their business,” despite the prevalence of anti-Semitism in Tennessee and beyond.
“We are committed to fighting hate and harm,” they said. “Together, let’s dig into this story so we can better live out that calling in our time and community.”
This story originally appeared in the morning edition live blog