The Headless Cupid, by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

2012 Book 140: The Headless Cupid, by Zilpha Keatley Snyder 

Reason for Reading: This is my first post for Book Journey’s Banned Books Week 2012 blog tour. By reading banned books, I feel that I’m expressing my freedom of speech, but I’m also interested in learning more about WHY people ban books. I don’t approve of banning most of the books on ALA’s top banned books lists, though for some of them I can empathize with the objections.  For the most part, I think the people who are objecting to these books need to give their children more credit for non-gullibility. All parents should watch what their children are reading, watching on TV, playing on the computer, etc. I believe that the best way to raise children is through a lot of communication. Banning books isn’t going to save our children from the real world. 

My Review
David, the eldest of the Stanley kids has had to take care of his three younger siblings ever since his mother died. When his father gets remarried, David has to adjust not only to the new mother, but to a new teen-aged sister. And what a strange sister she is! Amanda dresses in dark flowy clothing, has a triangle in the center of her forehead, and wears an upside-down smile. Amanda begins to teach the Stanley kids about the occult, but soon things get out of hand when they awaken a poltergeist! This book is appropriate for 3rd-5th grade range.

The Headless Cupid is 98th on on the ALA’s list of the top 100 books banned between 1990-2000. The complaints about the book were that kids might become interested in the occult (or even learn to practice the occult) from this book. Of course, this is preposterous. This is not a story about an evil little teen-aged witch–it’s a book about an angry girl who wants to get revenge on her mother for getting remarried. This is a book about the very real emotions children feel when their parents make life-changing decisions. It’s about coping with that anger. It’s about love and forgiveness. Any child reading the book will end on a note of acceptance and forgiveness (unless they don’t finish the book). I think people who fear a book about kids playing let’s-pretend probably ought to lock their doors and hide away…because the real world is a lot scarier than this book.

18 thoughts on “The Headless Cupid, by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

  1. I've never heard of this book. I'd like to read it..but I might become a little too interested in the occult! Gasp! 😉

    Why, oh why, do people think our children are that malleable?? Ugh.

    Thanks for sharing!


  2. Hadn't heard of that one, either, but I agree that parents ought to give their kids some credit. The same objections were made to Harry Potter. You said it: preposterous! 😀 Great post!


  3. This is a new title to me too but I see it is banned and challenged for the same reason the Harry Potter books are…. apparently kids are not smart enough to know they can not really fly on a broom…LOL

    Thanks you so much for sharing your review of this book! You rock!

    (and now I see the above comment also recognized this as close to the Harry Potter banning. 🙂 Liesel and I think alike!


  4. Wow, thanks everyone for stopping by! Let me say that Zilpha Keatley Snyder USED to be a popular author for children and she's written 43 books since 1964…She was awarded a Newbery honor three times, including for this book in 1971. So it's likely the reason you haven't heard of the book is because it's older, not because it wasn't popular when it came out. 😉

    It's a very cute book, but it IS a bit dated. I found the datedness a but quaint, personally. 🙂


  5. I forgot all about Zilpha Keatley Snyder. She wrote several books that were kind of gothic-y/eerie, like The Egypt Game and The Velvet Room, too. Surprised to see this about The Headless Cupid.


  6. It baffles me how books are seemingly so easily banned! I completely agree with you: the deeper message of this book is not that the girl is into the occult (she could've gone all, I don't know what they do nowadays, death metal or something), but that she needs to vent her anger, to rebel in some way against those who are in charge of her life.



  7. I just love the way the library community has turned book banning on its head with humor. It's also really fun to review banned books. So far, I've found and enjoyed reviewing two other banned ghost novels: Beloved and The Lovely Bones.

    For me, Headless Cupid was both sweet and thought-provoking. I admire the way Amanda ultimately deals with her anger and finds a place to belong, which is what she wanted all along.


  8. Chinoiseries: I agree! Kids need to be able to express themselves when they feel angry, and this was a relatively innocent way of doing it. Anybody who thinks this book is actually occult is totally missing the point. And not giving their kids enough credit.

    Deb: It is pretty funny, isn't it? I love banned books week! The silly thing about banning the books is that it makes people curious about them. Why do they bother?!


  9. I remembered recommending this to a friend for her book review in high school! I didn't know it was banned! Hahaha! But even if I knew, I would still recommend The Headless Cupid. =) I became a fan of Snyder because of this one. I even had The Egypt Game. Nice to know I'm not the only one who appreciated it. Hehe


  10. 🙂 Well Marj, it wasn't banned for a particularly good reason. I would consider everything in this book very tactfully handled–with a good message and inventive story. It SHOULD be shared with friends!


  11. Marj! I tried to comment on your blog, but there's something wrong with your CAPTCHA phrasebox. It doesn't load properly, which is probably why so few people commented! I tried to figure out how to contact you directly about it, but I couldn't comment on any of your messages and couldn't find your email address. Sorry!


  12. I read it years ago in the mid-80's. Awesome & fun book! I was shocked to find out that it was being banned. I was in 6th grade & still dealing with my parent's divorce. There is nothing bad in this book or in kids exploring spooky things. It's all very innocent & ghost stories.


  13. I borrowed this book from my school a week ago, and just finished a few days ago,I think that is just amazing… and I'm only 14! This book was suggested by a friend she said that it was kinda spooky, but both of us really enjoyed. I just don't get why did people banned, it's just ridiculous…


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