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Originally published Tuesday, October 21, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Mom: Book on bunny suicides is not funny

One way or another, a Halsey woman promises to keep a popular cartoon book out of her son's high school library. The book depicts a cartoon rabbit attempting to end his life in bizarre ways

HALSEY, Ore. — One way or another, a Halsey woman promises to keep a popular cartoon book out of the Central Linn High School library.

Taffey Anderson says "The Book of Bunny Suicides" is not appropriate for anyone, but especially children. She inspected the book her 13-year-old son checked out of the library, and what she saw convinced her to never return it.

The 2003 book by British author Andy Riley is a collection of cartoons showing a rabbit attempting to end his life in bizarre ways. Anderson's son told her he checked it out because his friends said it was funny.

"It is a comic book, but that's not funny. Not at all," Anderson told the Albany Democrat-Herald newspaper. "I don't care if your kid is 16, 17, 18. It's wrong."

Anderson contacted principal Julie Knoedler, who told her about the district's book-challenge policy.

Anderson plans to fill out the forms, but she's not taking any chances. Once the review is over, regardless of the outcome, she plans to burn it.

"They're not getting this book back," she said, adding that if the library replaces it: "I'll have somebody else check it out and I'll keep that one. I'm just disgusted by the whole ordeal."

Knoedler said Anderson must bring the book back for the committee to review it. If she refuses, the committee will have to buy another, at $13, and charge it to the family. If Anderson doesn't pay, her son will be banned from taking out any more books.

"That's really unfortunate, because he's obviously a kid who's interested in checking things out from the library," Knoedler said. "We won't put it back on the shelf. We'll put it out of circulation until the review is done."

Jean Townes, library consultant for the school district, said library books are ordered in batches, usually based on recommendations from established academic sites.

The book was on a young-adult reader list recommended by the American Library Association, she said, and she knows other school libraries in Oregon have purchased it.

The book, however, has been turned away by some school libraries. And in Shanghai, China, a bookseller pulled it last month after reports that several children had attempted suicide, with at least one boy dying.

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Scott Keeney, the children's librarian for the Albany [Oregon] Public Library, said he doesn't think the book is appropriate for the children's section but thinks it's OK on the adult shelf.

"I looked at a few of the cartoons and they were funny. Kind of mature, a little twisted and black. Some youth love that, some don't," he said.

Keeney compared Riley's drawings to the 1988 Simon Bond cartoon book, "101 Uses for a Dead Cat."

"Every family is different, and the range of community values in fiction, in movies, nonfiction, is so broad it's astonishing," he said. "Some families, you'd be astonished at what they allow or disallow on all sides of the open-information-for-children spectrum."

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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