Posted in Fiction, Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction

Join the resistance: BAN THIS BOOK

Ban this Book, by Alan Gratz, Sept. 2017, Starscape), $15.99, ISBN: 9780765385567

Recommended for readers 8-12

Fourth grader Amy Anne Ollinger isn’t one to speak up. When her parents tell her to let her sisters get their own way, she listens. All she wants to do is read her books and stay off anyone’s radar, but that all changes when her favorite book, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, is pulled from the library shelves after a classmate’s mother finds it inappropriate. Amy Anne is shocked when the school board carries the motion, but it gets worse when her classmate’s mom returns to the library with a list of MORE books. And the administration refuses to call it banning! Amy Anne launches into action: she starts her own banned book library, run out of her locker. As the battle of the books escalates, Amy calls some friends in for backup. They’re going to challenge every book in the library. The dictionary? You can find bad words, like “stupid”, in there. Goodnight Moon? That cute little mouse is a health violation! Math textbooks? Imaginary numbers don’t exist!

Ban This Book is wonderful, first and foremost, because it gives kids a voice. Amy Anne finds hers as the novel progresses, and defending her beloved books gives her the power to assert herself in other areas of her life. Alan Gratz gives us a protagonist of color who goes on her own hero’s journey in the course of this novel; from mouse (as drawn by her classmate) to advocate – and assistant librarian! Mr. Gratz also shows a valuable part of librarianship that most people don’t always associate with our little profession: defenders of the right to read. Ms. Jones, Amy’s school librarian, is portrayed as a knowledgable, dedicated professional – and one who notably does not “shush” her library kids – who fights for her books and her readers, challenging the school board over their decision to take her – the professional – out of the review and reconsideration process.

Amy Anne and her friends learn how to assemble as a group and use their strengths to form their own library, to organize their own challenge to the status quo, and to make decisions for themselves. Every character is a winner here, and extra kudos to the author for not making the board and PTA mom classic mustache-twirling villains here: Amy recognizes that they are good people who want to believe they are doing what’s best for their kids.

Every single book that the PTA mom challenges in Ban This Book can be found on the American Library Association’s list of frequently banned and challenged books.

An absolute must-add to reading lists and collections. Make this one the center of your Banned Book Week Display!

Posted in Uncategorized

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Characters I Wish I Could Check in With

Tuesday is a Meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week, I’m looking at ten characters from fiction that I would like to check in with, see how they’re doing, how life’s treating them.

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Alexia and Connal from Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series. I know I’ve got the adventures of their daughter, Prudence, waiting for me on my night table, and I hope I hear more about one of my favorite couples in fiction. These two are one of the sexiest steampunk paranormal couples in the history of ever. (And if I could find out how Ivy’s doing, I would be really, really happy, too.)

Professor McGonagall in the Harry Potter series. What happened to my favorite witch when all was said and done? Did she retire, and is happily feline, laying in a sunbeam? I need to know these things.

Richard Mayhew from Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere. What’s he up to these days? And what’s Door doing?

Fern from Charlotte’s Web. I’d love to know what happened to Fern as she grew up. And come to think of it, how did the rest of Wilbur’s life go, with Charlotte keeping him off the dinner table?

Claudia and Jamie from e.l. konigburg’s From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Did these two get a complimentary membership to the Met? Did they stay in New York City when they grew up? Did they ever consider holing up in the Hayden Planetarium?

Oliver in I Am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to Be Your Class President. This kid has got to be dictator of some small nation by now, right?

Ponyboy from The Outsiders. I think of Ponyboy like I do the narrator in Stand By Me, a writer, looking back on his youth. What happened to him after high school? Did Daryl make him stay in school? Did he go to college? What about Sodapop and Daryl? I hope they stayed close.

The girls from St. Etheldra’s, from Julie Berry’s Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place. I hope we get more books with these girls, because I loved this one. But if we don’t, what does a group of Victorian schoolgirls do, once they’ve hidden two bodies and tried to carry on as if nothing ever happened?

Holden Caulfield, from Catcher in the Rye. Come on, aren’t you the slightest bit curious?

Gale from The Hunger Games. Please tell me he met a nice girl that wasn’t interested in a government-sponsored relationship and settled down. PLEASE.