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Teen-age romance novels may send young girls into swoons, but that's not all they do, according to Maia Pank Mertz, associate professor of humanities education at Ohio State University. She contends that such books also promote the unrealistic idea that beauty and dependence are of paramount importance in relationships.

Calling them "training bras for Harlequins"--the popular adult romance novels-- Ms. Mertz said she is concerned that the formula-written novels set readers up for a big disappointment when they discover "that being pretty by itself doesn't necessarily bring them romance."

In a recent issue of an osu publication, Ms. Mertz called for teen-age literature that deals with "real-life" issues, such as pregnancy, drugs, and divorce. And she advised parents and educators to suggest to young girls who read teen-age romance novels that there are other, more realistic books available.

Booksellers around the nation are once again being called upon to display in their windows books that have been banned in the United States in the last year. The effort, part of this week's Banned Books Week '83, will feature such books as Doris Day: Her Own Story, by Doris Day; The Diary of Anne Frank, by Anne Frank; Ordinary People, by Judith Guest; and The Crucible, by Arthur Miller; and A Doll's House, by Henrik Ibsen.

Many booksellers reacted enthusiastically to last year's project, according to officials at the American Bookseller's Association, one of the co-sponsors of the event. "It was an impressive demonstration of the negative aspects of censorship," Robert D. Hale, aba's associate executive director, wrote in a letter to booksellers. The letter was accompanied by a poster, suggestions for displays, and a list of books banned in the U.S. since May 1982.

Other backers of the event include the American Library Association, the National Association of College Stores, the Association of American Publishers, and the American Society of Journalists and Authors; it is endorsed by The Center for The Book of The Library of Congress.

A new book for teen-agers about alcohol has drawn the ire of a national education group. The book fails to offer a clear presentation of the facts of teen-age alcohol use and runs counter to the goals of the National Association of State Boards of Education's Alcohol Education Guidelines Project, according to Phyllis L. Blaunstein, executive director of nasbe

The book, What About Alcohol, was written by the controversial psychologists Alex and Jane Comfort and is intended for high-school students. It is published by the Carolina Biological Supply Company in Burlington, N.C., and is part of its "What About Science" series.

The authors, according to Ms. Blaunstein, have failed to provide clear, factual information. "Young people need to be presented with accurate information and encouraged to make responsible decisions based on all available knowledge," she said.

In addition, the "scare" tactics used by the authors to warn teen-agers of the effects of alcohol abuse are known to be ineffective in producing desirable behavior in youths, according to Karen W. Powe, nasbe project director.

For more information on nasbe's Alcohol Education Guidelines Project, contact the association at 701 No. Fairfax St., Suite 340, Alexandria, Va. 22314.

Prospective authors of children's books should avoid writing for the child they used to be and steer clear of copying the styles of authors they admire. That is the advice of Barbara Bates, editor of books for young people at Westminster Press in Philadelphia.

Speaking at workshops during the 35th annual Philadelphia Writers Conference earlier this summer, Ms. Bates advised would-be authors to focus on the quality of the story rather than the warmth of the storyteller and to realize that children's books are in competition with television. Ms. Bates said that of the 1,500 manuscripts she receives at Westminster Press, only a dozen end up in bound-book form.

Imagine walking into a temperature-controlled room in the library of a major university and discovering 125,000 books for children and young adults. Such a place exists; it is the Children's Literature Collection at the University of Minnesota's Minneapolis campus.

Full of original manuscripts and illustrations dating back to the turn of the century, the collection, which is open to the public, represents one of the largest gatherings of children's literature in the world.

Two of the room's special features are the Hess Collection and the Kerlan Collection. George Hess Jr. was a St. Paul accountant who enjoyed reading dime novels. By the time of his death in 1954, he had amassed 70,000 of the quickly-written paperbacks, many of which chronicle the rags-to-riches sagas of American youths and the history of the Old West.

Irvin Kerlan, who received his M.D. at the University of Minnesota at the age of 20, collected children's books as a hobby; he donated 28,000 volumes, including 3,000 original illustrations and 2,000 original manuscripts, to the university in 1949. The collection continues to receive first editions of children's books, including the winners of the John Newbery Medal and the Randolph Caldecott Medal.

People for the American Way, a nonprofit organization that promotes civil liberties, recently surveyed the North Carolina public schools for instances of book censorship.

The group found that approximately 30 percent of the schools had experienced some form of censorship effort or challenge to teachers or school materials, said Barry Hager, director of the survey.

Sixty percent of the districts surveyed did have policies in place to deal with those challenges, Mr. Hager said. "But we did find a fairly significant number of cases where the policies were there, but it was not so clear that they were followed," he added.

And "in a fairly high number of cases, even where there is a policy and where it is followed, the result may still be ... that the challenged material gets pulled," Mr. Hager explained.

"We find that disturbing because in our view, the procedure really ought to [have] a strong bias in favor of keeping those materials available" to students who want to read them, he said.

The results, to be published later this month, will be circulated statewide to teachers, principals, superintendents, and others, and Mr. Hager said he hopes districts will call on pfaw "on an ad hoc basis" to help them deal with censorship problems that may arise.--ab

Vol. 03, Issue 02

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