Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Ban This Book

Ban This Book
by Alan Gratz
Starscape, 2017

"...for all the amazing things books can do, they can't make you into a bad person." p.232

Nope. They open our minds, make us think, introduce us to new worlds and different ways of living and being, entertain us, and call us to action. But they don't make us into bad people, or good people, or any kind of people at all. It's up to us to take action and be the person we want to be.

And that's precisely what Amy Anne learns in this book. She has always been the quiet mouse of a reader, chewing on the ends of her braids, having conversations in her head but not standing up for herself out loud...until her favorite book in the world is banned from the school library. The book is not banned through the formal board-approved process of review. Rather, it is banned because one powerful mother goes straight to the board, bypassing all the rules, and gets what she wants.

Not only does Amy Anne learn to say what's on her mind, she also learns the importance of empathy. It's not until she looks at the situation from the point of view of the book-banning mom is she able to provide the school board with the argument that wins her case -- you can't ban books because a single reader finds fault with them. If you did that, you might as well ban all the books in the library.

Hooray for the teachers in this book and their study of the Bill of Rights. Hooray for Amy Anne's friend Rebecca who wants to become a lawyer and who knows all about Robert's Rules of Order (and wears a suit and carries a briefcase to the school board meeting at the end of the book). Hooray for Alan Gratz for giving book-loving kids a book where the reader is the hero, and a story where the misuse of power is defeated by democracy.

I'm going to add Mrs. Jones to our list of 100 Cool Teachers in Children's Literature even though she's a librarian. She gets fired because of Amy Anne's BBLL (Banned Books Locker Library), but she doesn't hold it agains Amy Anne. She tells her, "Well-behaved women seldom make history. Consider this your first taste of behaving badly in the name of what's right." p.223

I'll end with this: "All the book challenges, the real ones, were because one person saw a book in a very different way than somebody else. Which was fine. Everbody had the right to interpret any book any way they wanted to. What they couldn't do then was tell everybody else their interpretation was the only interpretation." p.195.


1 comment:

  1. I have fallen in love with Alan Gratz's books this year. This one sounds terrific!


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