Book too hot to handle for store

Wairarapa Times-Age July 4 2013
The novel voted as the best children’s book of the year contains explicit sex and drug-taking scenes which had one Wairarapa bookstore scrambling to pull it off their shelves.

Ted Dawe’s Into the River claimed top prize in the annual New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards.

The author makes no apology for the provocative content, saying the story needs to be told, even at the risk of upsetting parents and booksellers.

One scene describes, in extensive detail, two adolescents having fumbling sex in shallow water.

Award organisers have sent “explicit content” stickers to all booksellers to warn potential buyers.

The 2013 Kiwi Kids’ Good Book Guide lists the book’s target age as 13 years and over but Masterton Paper Plus says the book is only suitable for those over 15.

Book manager Sue Reid said, while she usually monitors books when they arrive, the store had initially stocked it as it was a self-publication and had been “flying under the radar”.

Mrs Reid said the book had now been removed from shelves.

“While we are saying free speech, and people are free to write what they want, the conflict is that this is a children’s book winner. The book is actually aimed at 15-plus and it won in the category 13-plus.

“The content is graphic and people who are pretty liberal have commented on how graphic it is.

“Some of the staff have looked at it, and said ‘Oh my goodness’.”

Mrs Reid said some Masterton school libraries had chosen not to stock the book, even before it won the award.

Merchandise manager Catherine Raynes said the Paper Plus group left it up to individual stores to make the call.