'Froggy' gets a hearing

December 04, 1996|By Robert A. Erlandson | Robert A. Erlandson,SUN STAFF

When Froggy staged a crime spree to finance his wooing of Miss Mousie, children's book author Kevin O'Malley had the court send him to prison for a long stretch.

But when O'Malley's fanciful "gangster" version of the old folk tale got the boot from Baltimore County elementary schools last spring after one parent complained, the author never had his day court -- neither a hearing nor notification of the ban. The rules don't require it.

Now, after appeals from O'Malley and from Clara Grizzard, a neighbor and art educator, school officials have decided to allow O'Malley to plead his case.

Any author whose work is to be banned should have that opportunity, the 35-year-old Rodgers Forge illustrator and author 14 children's books said yesterday.

"Froggy Went A-Courtin' " was his first -- and still favorite -- book, O'Malley said. Illustrated as a satire in the style of a 1940s Jimmy Cagney gangster movie, "it was a morality tale" -- Froggy went to jail for his crimes, he said.

It also was the first book banned in Baltimore County schools in at least 27 years, according to library coordinator Della Curtis.

Pub Date: 12/04/96

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