Ban This Book by Alan Gratz
(Starscape – August 29th, 2017)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A wonderful message about the the power of speaking up in this middle grade novel for book lovers and librarians!
Thanks to the author for providing me with an advance copy of this novel for review purposes – all opinions are my own.
Book Description (from Goodreads)
It all started the day Amy Anne Ollinger tried to check out her favorite book in the whole world, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, from the school library. That’s when Mrs. Jones, the librarian, told her the bad news: her favorite book was banned! All because a classmate’s mom thought the book wasn’t appropriate for kids to read.
Amy Anne decides to fight back by starting a secret banned books library out of her locker. Soon, she finds herself on the front line of an unexpected battle over book banning, censorship, and who has the right to decide what she and her fellow students can read.
Reminiscent of the classic novel Frindle by Andrew Clements for its inspiring message, Ban This Book is a love letter to the written word and its power to give kids a voice.
As a school librarian, I am surely more than a little prejudiced in loving this story so much – a story of a parent getting a huge number of books removed from the school library without following proper procedure because the school board is bending to her will. AND a story of a student fighting back by creating a library of banned books in her locker to share with her classmates. I love the storyline of Amy Anne struggling to find her voice and actually speak up about things that bothered her, and finding her place in her chaotic family.
I do wish that the story would have been based on 6th or 7th graders, however, rather than 4th graders, given the higher level of the text and the locker premise. I feel like the lockers would resonate more with the middle school crowd rather than elementary and increasing the age of the students would allow the story to be appreciated more fully by a much wider age range of students. This story would definitely be appreciated by middle schoolers, but due to the 4th grade setting, most will probably stay away. In addition, some of the racial references, while I understand their intention, felt a little clunky.
There is also a great Common Core-aligned discussion and activity guide included at the end of the book.
Highly recommended for school libraries and classrooms, and a definite read aloud for 4th and 5th grades.