We all know that student who loves books — really, really loves books. Amy Anne Ollinger is just that student. Her favorite place in the whole world is her school library, and her favorite book is From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. You can imagine her shock when this book-loving girl finds out that her favorite book has been banned from the school library.
Well, you don’t have to imagine how she feels because Alan Gratz does a remarkable job of showing you. Told in first person, readers go on this journey with Amy Anne from right inside her head. And, her head is filled with thoughts, emotions, fears, insecurities, growing confidence, and wonderful language. “I felt like the carpet under my feet was turning into quicksand, and I was sinking fast.” That’s exactly how she felt.
If you are looking for a book where the kids are perfectly obedient to all of the adults in their world, this isn’t the book for your school. But, if you are looking for a novel that empowers students to stretch themselves beyond their limits and to take on big issues, then you have found it.
Inspired by Mrs. Jones, their beloved librarian, Amy Anne bands together with a supportive group of friends to form the Banned Book Locker Library (B.B.L.L.). Using Amy Anne’s locker as a repository for the removed books, the friends invite other students to borrow books like Captain Underpants, Matilda, and The Egypt Game. Soon the effort grows beyond a simple lending library and into a student movement to save their school library and librarian. In a surprising twist, one of the ringleaders of the movement turns out to be Trey, the son of the parent who started the book removal effort, and a creative and witty artist himself. Along the way, we watch Amy Anne grow from a timid, quiet, mouse of a girl into a strong leader, brave enough to speak up at a school board meeting about the importance of books.
Ban This Book will give students, teachers, and families plenty to discuss. There is the obvious topic of who gets to decide what children get to read. But, there are other themes in this richly-layered book like standing up for a cause you believe in, staying loyal to your friends, and making your place in a family. And, keep an eye out for all 69 well-loved children’s books referenced in the pages of Ban This Book – we include the list in the book packet.