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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Kids’ Fable Survives Protest Liza Lou’s Message Demonic, District 81 Parents Claim

Liza Lou lives on in Spokane school libraries despite an outcry from some parents who say the girl’s story is demonic.

District 81 officials decided against banning “Liza Lou and the Yeller Belly Swamp,” calling it a suspenseful fable about overcoming obstacles.

The 21-year-old book offers a message about safety, which is important “particularly in today’s world where staying safe is such a concern,” said District 81 spokeswoman Terren Roloff.

Nanean Shupp, who wanted the book pulled after it gave her children nightmares, said she is disappointed but not surprised.

“I really didn’t expect they’d agree with my feelings, honestly,” said Shupp, whose children attend Holmes Elementary School. “The district isn’t run by what parents think anymore.”

Shupp objects to the villains Liza Lou encounters while running errands for her mother, particularly a witch who threatens to boil Liza Lou and chew on her bones.

And then there’s the swamp devil who wants to jump in Liza’s ear and steal her soul.

“I thought the story line was just demonic. Simply put, demonic,” said Shupp. Eight other parents signed a petition she sent to the district in June.

The book is written by Connecticut author Mercer Mayer, who is best known for the book “There’s a Nightmare in My Closet.”

Last summer, a paperback version of “Liza Lou and the Yeller Belly Swamp” was published by Simon and Schuster.

It was quickly recommended as a great summer read by “CBS This Morning.”

A District 81 committee reviewed the book and last summer recommended keeping it on the shelves. It wasn’t clear why the decision was just announced to Shupp last week.

Associate Superintendent Cynthia Lambarth, who made the final decision to leave the book in school libraries, was in New York on Monday and unavailable for comment.

In a letter to Shupp, Lambarth compared the story to Hansel and Gretel.

“The suspense created in this story is intense and not relaxing, but that is consistent with the genre,” Lambarth wrote.

The book also teaches the importance of staying calm in the midst of danger and thinking through a situation, she wrote.

“It has a female character who overcomes obstacles and succeeds,” the letter said. “This is an important message in today’s world.”

, DataTimes MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: TV RATING Last summer, a paperback version of “Liza Lou and the Yeller Belly Swamp” was published by Simon and Schuster. It quickly was recommended as a great summer read by “CBS This Morning.”

This sidebar appeared with the story: TV RATING Last summer, a paperback version of “Liza Lou and the Yeller Belly Swamp” was published by Simon and Schuster. It quickly was recommended as a great summer read by “CBS This Morning.”

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