Review Blog

Nov 01 2017

Ban this book by Alan Gratz

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Lothian Children's Books, 2017. ISBN 9780734417824
(Age: Middle primary - Middle School) Highly recommended. Amy Anne Ollinger has it pretty tough at home... her youngest sister thinks she is a My Little Pony and the other, whom Amy Anne unfortunately shares her bedroom with, uses Amy's bed for ballet practice and yells at her whenever she comes in the room. No wonder she turns to reading to escape from it all. When her favourite book in the whole wide world is banned from the school library along with 12 other very popular books, the usually quiet Amy Anne rebels. The introverted protagonist begins to collect the list of banned books and starts a library out of her locker. Her idol, the school librarian, gives her occasional hints about how best to run a library; a lending system, for example. The novel focuses on censorship but in a lighthearted way that has the reader cheering for the book lovers.
The books are banned because a member of the School Board deems the book inappropriate. Amy Anne's argument is that a child's parent should be able to decide what is appropriate and suitable for their child on an individual basis. The list of banned books is based on a factual collection of books banned at one or another stage within American schools which could add an interesting element of discussion, as well touching on the first and second amendments. The novel is set in an American school. This novel was light and hilarious at points. Amy Anne engineers a campaign to challenge every book in the school library with her friends by finding ridiculous reasoning to challenge; The magic treehouse raises safety concerns; The Lorax portrays the timber industry in a negative light, and so on. Having a sense of humour in such a serious situation is a tool used by the author to really draw in the reader. The only downside? Amy Anne is written as a fourth grader, which may lose a percentage of middle years readers.
Clare Thompson

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