February 23, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Free Speech Matters: National Coalition Against Censorship’s 40th Anniversary Celebration

Luminaries at the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) Free Speech Matters dinner and awards celebration on November 3, which was emceed by actor and humorist John Hodgman, included evening honorees Neil Gaiman, author of “The Sandman” graphic novel series (Vertigo) and the more recent graphic novel adaptation of his Newbery Award–winning novel The Graveyard Book (HarperCollins, 2014) and Hansel and Gretel (Toon Books, 2014), and Robie H. Harris, author of the oft-challenged children’s book about puberty, It’s Perfectly Normal (1994, Candlewick), which has just been completely updated in a 20th anniversary edition. (The book was recently listed as #7 on the American Library Association’s list of most frequently challenged books of the 21st century.)

School Library Journal was on hand at at the dinner ceremony, which took place in New York City’s Tribeca 360, to help NCAC celebrate 40 years of free speech and its defenders. Highlights of the evening were the appearance of students from Trumbull (CT) High School, who performed numbers from their production of Rent, which was successfully staged last spring after a hard fought victory over efforts to cancel the program. Also, singer/songwriter Amanda Palmer brought down the house with a stirring and powerful musical homage to author and free speech activist Judy Blume.


On the red carpet (from l. to r.): Larissa Mark, Judy Blume, Amanda Palmer, and Neil Gaiman


NCAC Honoree Robie H. Harris (r.) and her editor at Candlewick Hilary Van Dusen


NCAC honoree Neil Gaiman (l.) being interviewed for “KidLit TV” by Rocco Staino