Banned Books Week – Bone By Jeff Smith


I will readily admit that graphic novels do not make it on my radar screen these days. The last time I picked up a comic book was when I bought and Archie and Veronica comic book for my daughter. Let’s just say it was a long time ago.

We did have a love affair with Calvin and Hobbes. Both Calvin and Hobbes and Archie and Veronica were comics. The books were compilations of comic strips. Sometimes a theme would carry over from one to another but the strips did not tell one central story.

In researching graphic novels for this year’s Banned Books Week, I went in search of Bone by Jeff Smith. If I had caught on the Captain Underpants was a graphic novel, (it tops the list of books that were attempted to be removed) I would have started there but I did not realize it was a graphic novel. I did, however, connect that Bone was a graphic novel and I picked it up.

I picked up the first book of the Bone series. There are 9 books in the series.  The first book was published in 1991 and has the title Out from Boneville.



Three cousins, Fone Bone, Phoney Bone, and Smiley Bone have been chased out of Boneville due to Phoney Bones unethical ways to enhance his state as the richest man in Boneville.  As the book starts, they have been running away from the townspeople for two weeks.  The three soon get separated by a swarm of locusts.  Fone Bone becomes our focus as he searches for his cousins and a return to Boneville.  Fone finds himself in a strange land where there there are animals that want to attack him and where he has a mysterious protector. Fone escapes an encounter with his enemies (thanks to his protector) and meets the lovely Thorn.  He had been told that Thorn was the one who would be able to help him find his cousins and get back to Boneville.  Soon Thorn introduces him to her Grandmother and after yet another attack, they set off for Barrelhaven (the next town).  They do find Phoney Bones and Smiley Bones in Barrelhaven where Phoney and Smiley  have already gotten in trouble and hatched a plan to make money.


The story was interesting.  At first, you don’t know that there is a bigger plot but as the story proceeds, you see that there is more at work than just what is on the surface.  I do wonder what happens in the next story and the following books.  The story moves along quickly and the comic element contributes to the story.  There is definitely a tale of good vs. evil in the book and good looks like it will win.

I liked it.  Am I dying to buy the next book?  No, I am not.  The books are pricey especially when purchased separately.  Because I wanted to include this for this week and I didn’t plan ahead well, I bought the first book.  The books are available from my local library and I would probably go there to get the rest of the books.

2014 banned books week

Why there were attempts to ban the book

The reasons given for the attempts were the book’s political viewpoint, that it was racist, and had violence in it.

 “I’ll be honest, I had two simultaneous reactions when I heard Bone was in the top 10. First, that I was being attacked and I didn’t know why. Then a thought like: hey, this isn’t the worst thing that can happen. A lot of my heroes are on this list. Mark Twain, Melville, Bradbury, Steinbeck, Vonnegut; authors whose work is about something — that do the kind of writing I aspire to.”

Jeff Smith

As with everything in life, it depends how you look at it.  I really did not see anything offensive in the book that I read.  Yes, there was an attack but I have honestly seen worse things on the evening news.  I am sure that children who play video games have played games with worse violence.  And it is all in the good vs. evil theme.

Do you read graphic novels?  Tell me about the ones you have read.

Thanks for reading!





About Carol Early Cooney

I love to read. I love to share my thoughts on books and hope to hear what you think also. Looking to see what books I read beyond those I write about? Check out my Goodreads!
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2 Responses to Banned Books Week – Bone By Jeff Smith

  1. Julia Tomiak says:

    Thanks Carol – I was shocked this book made the Banned List. My kids enjoyed this series years ago. I’m not a big fan of graphic novels either, however, recently publishers have released graphic novel versions of classics or difficult books, and I think these stories will get to more readers via the visual format.

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