Fairfield School District Reverses Course, Re-Invites Author To Speak

FAIRFIELD, CT — Children’s book author Chad Sell has been re-invited to speak in Fairfield elementary schools by Superintendent Michael Testani, following issues over the original cancellation of the author’s planned visit to three elementary schools.

Sell, the author of “The Cardboard Kingdom: Snow and Sorcery,” was initially scheduled to visit Burr, Riverfield, and Holland Hill schools, but concerns over the visit, voiced by an undisclosed number of parents, led Testani to cancel the event on Friday.

The Fairfield Libary has since stepped up to host the author on Thursday, but seats for the event are no longer available, according to a note on the library’s website.

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Testani told the Fairfield Board of Education Tuesday night that he had been “backed into a corner” by the Madison-based bookstore that organized the event, RJ Julia Independent Booksellers, into making a decision too quickly of canceling the event.

“There were some issues that were raised by parents,” Testani said. “I don’t think it’s relevant whether it’s one parent or 100 parents. Every parent in the district has a voice, and they should be heard, not just the loudest voices, but all voices, regarding some possible age appropriateness when it came to the content” of Sell’s book.

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Testani said he decided to cancel out of an abundance of caution, and to protect all students. After doing due diligence on the book, he decided to re-invite Sell.

The book is part of a trilogy, and according to Pen America, the first book in the trilogy, “The Cardboard Kingdom,” is one of 450 books recently banned in Iowa schools.

Sell, a Connecticut resident, is gay, and among the topics presented in the book are freedom of gender expression, diversity and acceptance, among other related themes. One male character in the book, for example, likes to dress as an empress.

A date for when Sell will come back to Fairfield to speak in the elementary schools has not been decided, but Testani said that all 11 elementary schools will have the opportunity to host Sell, if the schools want him to visit.

In the future, the board said it intends to further discuss the policies surrounding author visits, transparency of the process, and how parental concerns are addressed. According to Testani, the PTAs at the three schools were not involved in the set-up of the event or the cancellation, which also generated some concern among parents.

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