Pullman books under review by 2 more Catholic boards
Twoother Toronto-area Catholic boards of education are studying copies of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy after the Halton District Catholic School Board removed the children's books from its library shelves.
Both the Durham and Dufferin-Peel Catholic boards have said they will also review the popular children's fantasy series.
A representative of the Dufferin-Peel board, representing schools in areas west of Toronto, told CBC News it has asked staff to read the first book in the series, The Golden Compass, to see if it's suitable for children.
The Dufferin-Peel board has received no complaints over the book, but was alerted that there might be concerns about Pullman's series because of actions by the Halton board.
The Durham board, representing schools in areas east of Toronto, said itis dealing with issue, but had no further comment.
Catholic school boards in Ontario are publicly funded.
The Halton board asked school principals to pull all three books in Pullman's His Dark Materials series from library shelves.
The books have not been banned — but they are being reviewed after a single complaint.
"Anyone can request an official reconsideration of a book and we are obligated to act upon it," said Scott Millard, manager of library services at the Halton board.
The Golden Compass, voted best children's book in the last 70 years in a poll earlier this year, is still available to children in Halton's 39 grade schools and seven high schools, but only by request.
The board declined to give details of the complaint, but a memo to principals said there were concerns the books were "anti-God, anti-Catholic and anti-religion."
British author Philip Pullman has given interviews recently stating that he is an atheist. His books have themes of religion, magic and science.
"What we're reviewing is the material of the actual book," Rick MacDonald, superintendent of the Halton board, told CBC News. "So whether the author's an atheist is immaterial."
Educators reviewing the books will make a decision within a month, he said. The board could ban the book, restrict it to certain grades or put it back on library shelves.
The Golden Compass was published in 1995, but is back in the public eye because of a movie adaptation to be released later this year starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig.
In the U.S., the Catholic League has accused the books of bashing Christianity and urged parents to boycott the movie.
However, in the U.K., the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams reviewed Pullman's trilogy for the Guardian newspaper in 2004.
Williams praised the books and recommended them to young readers.
"This extraordinary theatrical adventure sets a creative religious agenda in a way hard to parallel in recent literature and performance," he wrote.