An inspiring tale of a fourth-grader who fights back when her favorite book is banned from the school library–by starting her own illegal locker library!
It all started the day Amy Anne Ollinger tried to check out her favorite book in the whole world, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, from the school library. That’s when Mrs. Jones, the librarian, told her the bad news: her favorite book was banned! All because a classmate’s mom thought the book wasn’t appropriate for kids to read.
Amy Anne decides to fight back by starting a secret banned books library out of her locker. Soon, she finds herself on the front line of an unexpected battle over book banning, censorship, and who has the right to decide what she and her fellow students can read.
Reminiscent of the classic novel Frindle by Andrew Clements for its inspiring message, Ban This Book is a love letter to the written word and its power to give kids a voice.
GUEST POST – Favorite Banned Book
– From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
I love this book so much. When I was a boy, I was inspired by From the Mixed-up Files to try to run away from home like Claudia and Jamie to live somewhere else. But because I lived in Knoxville, Tennessee, and not New York City, my plans were a little more pedestrian–I was going to run away to live in West Town Mall! (They do have beds there after all, in the department stores!) I even went so far as to buy a map of the city to see how far away it really was, and to try saving up for taxi fare. I never did run away though. I think I ended up buying the Star Wars Degobah playset with that money instead. 🙂
When suburban Claudia Kincaid decides to run away, she knows she doesn’t just want to run from somewhere, she wants to run to somewhere — to a place that is comfortable, beautiful, and, preferably, elegant. She chooses the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Knowing her younger brother Jamie has money and thus can help her with a serious cash-flow problem, she invites him along.
Once settled into the museum, Claudia and Jamie find themselves caught up in the mystery of an angel statue that the museum purchased at auction for a bargain price of $225. The statue is possibly an early work of the Renaissance master, Michelangelo, and therefore worth millions. Is it? Or isn’t it?
Claudia is determined to find out. Her quest leads her to Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, the remarkable old woman who sold the statue, and to some equally remarkable discoveries about herself.
I’m not sure I have all that much to add to the wonderful praises being sung about this book, but I’ll give it a go, because it’s more than deserving.
Middle grade novels often get dismissed as too juvenile, or not juvenile enough. It’s like you can’t win! But with Ban This Book, you get a wonderful story full of powerful ideas, and they’re presented in a format and style that is kid friendly, yet enjoyed by all. To truly gain the heart of your readers, you need to give them characters they can root for, and you’ll definitely find yourself on Amy Anne’s team in no time.
Furthermore, it’s important to have a unique voice, as I’ve said often and will always say, and Gratz certainly has nailed this particular technique. I’m already anxious to dive into his other works after thoroughly enjoying this one!
If you’ve ever questioned why someone else feels they have the right to say what you can or can’t do, or think, or, you know, READ, then this book is for you. If you haven’t questioned this, read it anyway and start asking these questions!
Alan’s short fiction has appeared in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, online at Tor.com, and in the anthologies Half-Minute Horrors and Tomo: Friendship Through Fiction, which benefitted victims of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami.
As the first Artist in Residence at the American School in Japan in 2010, Alan spent six weeks teaching historical fiction-writing to middle school students in Tokyo, and he was the Thurber House Children’s Writer in Residence in 2011, living and writing in James Thurber’s attic for a month while working with young writers from all around the Columbus, Ohio area.
In addition to writing plays, magazine articles, and a few episodes of A&E’s City Confidential, Alan has taught catapult-building to middle-schoolers, written more than 6,000 radio commercials, sold other people’s books, lectured at a Czech university, and traveled the galaxy as a space ranger. (One of these, it should be pointed out, is not true.)
Alan was born and raised in Knoxville, Tennessee, home of the 1982 World’s Fair. After a carefree but humid childhood, Alan attended the University of Tennessee, where he earned a College Scholars degree with a specialization in creative writing, and, later, a Master’s degree in English education. He now lives with his wife Wendi and his daughter Jo in the high country of Western North Carolina, where he enjoys playing games, eating pizza, and, perhaps not too surprisingly, reading books.
Photo Credit: Wes Stitt