MONROE, Mich. – When organizers of the Arborwood Elementary School began stacking the shelves for this year's book fair they were warned by book publisher Scholastic Books that one selection might be controversial.
"Captain Underpants and the Sensational Saga of Sir Stinks-a-lot" is not on the shelves. It's the latest installment of the popular "Captain Underpants" children books series by author Dav Pilkey. At the end of the story (spoiler alert!) the book's main character Harold meets his grown-up self and finds out he's gay and has a husband.
Students from kindergarten on up shop, buy and read without parental involvement at the Arborwood Elementary School book fair. For this book, that student independence troubled organizers.
"With a book like this, apparently, they felt that it was appropriate for the parents to help them make the decision about purchasing the book," said Barry Martin, Monroe Public Schools superintendent.
The gay theme is not the primary plot line and Scholastic Books reviewers deemed the book appropriate for this age group.
Some parents feel it's unfair to deny access to children -- some of whom may be in same-sex families -- and feel parental involvement is unnecessary.
"If you're in this world, they should know about that regardless. I mean, (parents) should have that conversation before it's brought up," said Kimberly Rose, a parent who opposes the decision to ban this book from the fair.
However, the majority of parents support the Parent-Teacher Organization's decision.
"I think at this kind of age a parent should be involved with them because they're so young that they maybe need to be explained what this is about," said Sherika Watkins.
One parent said she wouldn't but the book.
The book fair is offering the book for online sale in the fliers it sent home and will give a student the same flier to take home if they ask for the book.
To date, only two students have requested it. Scholastic Books says across the country they've received a few complaints from individual families that purchased the book but have not received any complaints regarding book fairs.
When the book was published back in September, author Dav Pilkey said:
"When it comes to books, we may not all agree on what makes for a good read, but I hope we can agree that letting children choose their own books is crucial to helping them learn to love reading."
The book was reviewed by a panel of experts at Scholastic Books and deemed appropriate for book fairs such as Monroe's.