BOOK REVIEW – Ban This Book, A Novel

by Alan Gratz  (Author) 

Children’s Book Review  by Jackie Houchin

BAN THIS BOOK by Alan Gratz, is an excellent book for middle grade and middle school kids (And older! Hey, I liked it!). It’s the story of Amy Ann, a 4th grade girl, and her reaction (and the good and bad consequences that happen) when she discovers that her very favorite, all time best book has been “removed” from her elementary school library. It’s no secret what it is. The book banned is From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler* by E. L. Konigsburg.  She doesn’t understand, even when her friend, the Librarian, explains that there were things inside that the School Board didn’t think were “appropriate” for elementary school children. Amy Anne is devistated.

Then we learn that this book is not the only one pulled from the shelves. A woman, the parent of a boy in Amy Anne’s class, has taken more books away. Books like, Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret, by Judy Blume, Matilda, by Ronald Dahl, Harriet the Spy, by Louise Fitzhugh, all the Captain Underpants books by Dav Pilkey, and all the Goosebumps books by R.L. Stine and more!

Amy Anne and her friends Rebecca and Danny cook up a “Big Plan” to allow those books to be read by kids at their elementary school, even if they are not in the Library,  Amy Anne establishes a secret library in her locker, with a growing number of the banned books supplied by her two friends and kids they know. She establishes a check-out method and all.  When the boy’s mother yanks more books from the school library, copies – now with newly drawn covers – find themselves in Amy Anne’s locker.  Her readership grows and grows until……….YIKES!!

The fall out is massive and includes parents, the School Board, and TV and newspaper reporters.  AND her favorite Librarian is fired!  It takes guts and well-laid plans to right the wrongs. Is Amy Anne up to it?

I think this is a book that kids and their parents should read (It’s a FUN read, besides!) and discuss. And the author has conveniently supplied “Prereading Discussion Topics and Activities” and “Postreading Discussion Questions.” at the end of the book that will bring Amy Anne’s story home to young readers. They are really good.

FIVE (very positive) STARS


* Every one of the 30 or so books mentioned in this novel were actually challenged or banned in an American library at least once in the last thirty years.

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