This Book Is Banned

Sourcebooks/eXplore. Sept. 2023. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781728276564.
Gr 1-3–What’s the deal with giraffes? In this book, the tall creatures are getting all the tasty leaves, and the hippos don’t like it one bit. The solution: Ban stories about giraffes! Complaining hippos are the next to be banned, followed by dinosaurs, avocados, beds, birthday cakes, and more. Illustrations add impact, with plenty of red pencil marks and “banned” signs plastered over items and text. The narrator addresses readers in a conversational tone: “Are you sure you want to keep reading? You do? You’re having fun?” The answer will most definitely be “yes,” but the hilarity is balanced by more serious intent, beginning with an age-appropriate definition of a banned book: “It’s when one group of people decides that no one should be allowed to read a certain book, and they try to remove that book from libraries and schools.” The ensuing examples, while comical, build understanding about what motivates book banners, including misinformation (dinosaurs are make-believe), personal beliefs (avocados are disgusting), and fear (there’s a monster under the bed). The book’s strong throughline extends from the “banned” cover image to the redacted author and illustrator biographical end notes that kids will enjoy deciphering. In a stirring conclusion, readers are reminded that “Even if a book isn’t for you, it could still be perfect for someone else.”
VERDICT A funny, thought-provoking book that opens the door to discussion about book banning with younger children.

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