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Comic Book Store Owners Offer to Ship Banned Holocaust Novel ‘Maus’ to Tennessee Students for Free

The Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel “Maus” was banned Jan. 10 after a unanimous vote by the McMinn County Board of Education in Tennessee.

Written by Art Spiegelman, “Maus” tells the story of his parents in the 1940s, following the Jewish family’s experience with rising anti-Semitism until their internment in the Auschwitz concentration camp. He depicts the Jewish people as mice and the Nazis as cats.

The novel was pulled for ‘unnecessary use of profanity and nudity and its depiction of violence and suicide,’ the education board said in A declarationadding that the work “was just too adult-oriented to be used in our schools”.

News of “Maus” being banned has shocked comic book fans across the country.

In California, about 2,400 miles from McMinn County, Ryan Higgins had a plan.

Higgins owns comic plot in Sunnyvale, a town about 40 miles south of San Francisco. On January 26, a day before Holocaust Remembrance Day, Higgins tweeted that he would donate 100 copies of the book to families in McMinn County.

“Just DM me your address!” Higgins wrote.

CNN’s Jake Tapper retweeted her offer, and she took off from there, Higgins told CNN on Tuesday.

As of Tuesday night, her tweet had over 12,000 likes and over 3,000 retweets.

“Our phone rang non-stop with endless support,” Higgins said.

The few copies of “Maus” Higgins had in stock at the store sold out immediately, he said, and a new order is expected to arrive on Friday. Higgins plans to send them out soon after.

"Maus"  is back on bestseller lists after being banned from a Tennessee school district

“It’s not a book that’s all about pornography and violence,” he said. “It teaches these kids about the horrors of the Holocaust in a more acceptable way than some images that are just plain horrifying.”

Higgins said he first read the book when he was a teenager. “It’s more than just a comic book,” he added. “Reading it, I was quite blown away.”

Last week’s viral tweet was not the first time Higgins had tried to help distant students.

In December, he tweeted a similar offer after a Texas school district banned the “V for Vendetta” novel and the “Y: The Last Man” series.

Local comic book store turned lending library

McMinn students also received similar offers from comic book enthusiasts a bit closer to home.

In Knoxville, just north of McMinn County, the Comic Nirvana store announced that it would lend copies of “Maus” to local students.

Rich Davis, who co-owns the store with Grant and Jasmine Mitchell, told CNN the original plan was to let students borrow the 10 copies they had of the graphic novel.

But as news of the program spread on social media, the plans were to get a little bigger.

“The program has grown from a small lending library in our store to where we’ll be able to provide over 1,000 books nationwide,” Davis said.

A go finance me to raise money so the store can buy more copies of “Maus” raised more than $95,000 on Tuesday, surpassing its original goal of $20,000.
Nirvana Comics staff in Knoxville are working on requests for copies of "Maus".

Davis said they prioritize sending the novel to students in Tennessee, especially those in McMinn County.

The store includes a 10-page study guide written by local high school English teacher Heather Greene with every shipment. Davis said the guide is intended to help parents discuss the topic with their children.

Nirvana Comics in Knoxville includes a 10-page study guide with every copy of "Maus".

Nirvana Comics sent out about 50 copies of the book on Tuesday and expects another 1,000 copies. The novel’s distributor, Penguin Random House, has been overwhelmed with demand for the novel, according to Davis.

“‘Maus’ isn’t the only way to teach children about the Holocaust, but I think it’s the most effective and accessible,” Davis said. “The images in the book are nowhere near as disturbing as those of Auschwitz or other concentration camps.”

Davis said he sobbed the first time he read it and to this day can’t read it without crying.

“This should be required reading for everyone,” Davis added. “If we don’t show them what the Holocaust was, the next generation might think it wasn’t that bad, then the next generation might think the Holocaust didn’t happen, and then the next generation will repeat the Holocaust.”