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Hands down … Alan Gratz’ newest book for tweens, “Ban this Book”, should be available in every school and public library!
When 4th grader Amy Anne Ollinger discovers that her favourite book, “From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler”, has been removed and banned from her school library at the insistence of a parent, she and two friends take action. They set up a “secret” BBLL (Banned Books Locker Library) to make available the books which the parent has decided are “inappropriate” reading for students.
Of course, their schoolmates eagerly borrow the books! (Who can resist reading a book that’s been forbidden?)
When the locker library is discovered by the principal, Amy Anne and her cohorts find a clever way to counter the banned books problem in their school. Soon after that, soft-spoken, quiet Amy Anne finds the courage to speak up at a school board meeting about censoring books in local school libraries, with positive results.
Alan Gratz tackles some important messages and issues in this novel: censorship and who should decide what kids can or can’t read, the power of speaking up, the effectiveness of working together to solve a problem and making assumptions about others.
In his author’s notes, Gratz observes that each title banned in this story has actually been removed from a library somewhere.
Some useful discussion guides are included.
This year, Freedom to Read Week is February 28 to March 3.
Note: The Stratford Public Library does own a copy of E.L. Konigsburg’s “From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler!
** Recommended for ages 8 to 12 years.
** Reviewed by Sally Hengeveld, librarian, Stratford Public Library.

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