Ban On `The Witches' Sought BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - Parents trying to ban a children's book

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Ban On `The Witches' Sought BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - Parents trying to ban a children's book about witches lack a sense of humor, British author Roald Dahl said. Dahl's book ``The Witches'' should be removed from the library at Broadwater Elementary School in Billings because it refers to witches, parents Sue and Monte Mutschler said Wednesday. ``The fact is that there are such things as witches. They are part of the satanic church,'' Monte Mutschler said. ``This book is a fantasy and an enormous joke,'' Dahl responded in a telephone interview from his home in England. ``We all know that witches don't exist, not the way I've written about them. They are parents without any sense of humor at all.'' Dahl - the author of several popular children's books, including ``Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,'' which was made into the movie, ``Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory'' - suggested that the school district let the children help decide the book's fate in the school library. ``The last chap I heard of who banned books was Hitler,'' Dahl said. ``The banning of any book, you know especially a children's book, is unforgivable.'' Jim Strecker, the school's principal, said he will head a committee of educators to consider removing ``The Witches'' from the school library. The book has been used in the school for several years without complaints, Strecker said, adding that Dahl ``is well-known and this particular book is widely read.'' ``The Witches,'' published in 1983, is being made into a movie by Muppets creator Jim Henson, Dahl said. The effort to ban the book comes a week after parents in Maryland and Texas urged school officials to limit observance of Halloween because they said the holiday is linked to devil worship. Several Maryland school officials canceled traditional Halloween costume parties, opting to hold fall and harvest celebrations instead, while officials in that state and Texas said they would take a look at the role of Halloween in the schools. AP-NY-10-19-89 0258EDT (C) Copyright 1989, Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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