Hannah and the Homunculus: 07/28/17
When I was looking for work, I volunteered my time at my local library. Around the same time that I had first started, a perfect position opened up — pre-screener for the Friends of the Library store. The library, part of a countywide system, had finally gotten the green light to start weeding it's collection again now that more uniform guidelines had been put in place across all the branches. My job was to go through everything that had been slated for weeding to see if it was something that would sell in the store. The ultimate decision to actually put it on the shelves for sale falls into to the hands of the subject PICs (persons in charge).
Usually when I worked, I needed to stay focused on the task at hand: what was the book? was it in good condition? would it sell? I didn't have time to waste reading everything or really anything on the book carts. Each cart could take an hour of my time.
But sometimes a book was so extraordinary that it demanded attention. One such "gem" was Hannah and the Homunculus by Kurt Hassler. Already the title is uncanny. By title alone it could mean the scaled drawings showing how much of the brain is dedicated to controlling / monitoring different parts of the body. Or it could be the alchemical homunculus, meaning the creation of a fully formed, little man by artificial or magical means. And if you've read or seen Full Alchemist then there's even greater and more sinister meaning attached to the word.
Hannah is a normal child who has normal personal boundaries and knows how and when to use the word no. She says no a lot. That is until a homunculus comes and steals her ability to use the word. Suddenly she is the sweet, abiding, pushover the adults in her life have always wanted.
Are you squicked yet? Who is the target audience here? Is it to teach willful (aka normal, healthy, well adjusted) girls to be meek, timid, and complacent no matter what's done to them? Is it an awkwardly staged attempt at dealing with child abuse and molestation?
Either way, it's on a short personal list of worst children's books I've ever read.
Comment #1: Saturday, July 29, 2017 at 03:47:31
As an abuse survivor myself, I'm honestly glad I never read that book, as it's not only abuse apologist-friendly, but sexist and misogynistic too (considering what you described what the book teaches girls to do and when to do it).
Comment #2: Saturday, July 28, 2017 at 21:12:00
I'm frankly shocked that the book was greenlit for publishing and that it was picked for purchase by the library. I'm surprised it lasted in circulation for so long.