In 2006, Teaching Tolerance interviewed author James Howe about Totally Joe and described the book this way:
As a sequel to 2001′s The Misfits, Howe’s newest, Totally Joe, continues the tale of Joe Bunch, a charming, gay 7th-grader who faces a homophpbic bully and other challenges before coming out.
Howe says he noticed an increase in challenges to his books after the 2004 Presidential election. According to one report, the American Library Association’s list of the top 10 banned books in 2005 included three books banned for “homosexual content.” That was the highest number in a decade – until this year when four such books appeared in the top 10.
Without justifying the ugly homophobia underlying this censhorship, perhaps there is a silver lining if the backlash itself is responding to an actual increase in the number of books – and children’s books in particular – that portray homosexuality in a natural and positive light.
-Kathleen A. Bergin