A quick glance into "The Kid's Address Book" can point your child in the direction of a remarkable range of people, famous and infamous. Your young one can then mail Cindy Crawford a love poem or Ross Perot some political tips. The following praise appears in Amazon.com's customer comments: "I think that the book has a lot of addresses of people from Billy Idol to Steve Young. You get a lot of replies from the people you write to. I thought it was a really good book for people who might want to be in fan clubs."
The volume's publisher, Perigree Books, has done some preventive purging over the past few weeks, however. The addresses of Charles Manson, David "Son of Sam" Berkowitz, Sirhan Sirhan and Mark David Chapman are among those that have been deleted.
Michael Levine, who compiled the original "Address Book" in 1980 as well as the children's edition 11 years later, told Salon Books that he hadn't realized the offending names appeared in the kids version. He supports the publisher's move: "Particularly with the current situation," he said, referring to the killings in Littleton, Colo., "I don't have any problem with that decision.
"The purpose of 'The Address Book' was to allow someone to praise a hero or shake a fist at a villain," Levine continued, "I think of Susan Smith, the little girl who wrote a letter to the Soviet premier, Yuri Andropov, in 1986. She asked him why kids in both countries couldn't get along better. Andropov flew her over and she met him. Letter writing can be a powerful instrument."