Coming-Of- Age Novel Causes Uproar in California School

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Published February 22, 2008

| FoxNews.com

When Patricia Cosby's 12-year-old daughter brought home the novel "Prep" from school, she was horrified to find out what her daughter was reading.

"It was really like reading something that was pornographic," Cosby said.

Her daughter found the book -- which is part of an accelerated reading program -- in the Heritage Oak School library in Yorba Linda, Calif.

"When the book first came home I couldn't sleep the first night," Patricia Cosby said. "I just kept waking up and I just had this sick feeling in the pit of my stomach."

"Prep," by Curtis Sittenfeld, is a coming-of-age tale about an Indiana teenager who wins a scholarship to a prestigious boarding school. It has won awards and has been well-reviewed, but several passages in it border on the pornographic.

One of the tamer passages in the book reads: "I wrapped my legs around his waist. He jerked against me so strongly that I thought he might tear through my underwear."

The book was on a list of recommendations sent to schools all over the country that use a program called accelerated reading from Wisconsin-based Renaissance learning.

Click here for more about Renaissance Learning.

The company says "Prep" is appropriate for ninth graders, but it also says the reading level is appropriate for 12-year-olds.

Greg Cygan, principal of Heritage Oak School, immediately pulled the book off the shelves. He says he blames Renaissance for putting the book into the hands of young children at his school.

"I think most people in the K-12 group would stand behind me and say it shouldn't have made the list.

"But if it was on the list, clearly Renaissance has a responsibility to put some sort of a warning on the book. And then the school library can make a decision whether or not they want to have that."

In an e-mail to FOX News, Renaissance executives denied responsibility, saying, "Ultimately to use or not use a book is based on professional judgment about the book's appropriateness and is the sole responsibility of librarians, teachers and/or parents."

Renaissance said it will neither remove "Prep" from its recommended reading list nor change the age group for which it is deemed appropriate.

Ron Ralston contributed to this report.

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http://www.foxnews.com/story/2008/02/22/coming-age-novel-causes-uproar-in-california-school