Book Title: Property of the Rebel Librarian
Author: Allison Varnes
Paperback or e-book: 288 pages
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Date Published: September 18, 2018
Genre: Children’s, Censorship, Social Skills
Ages: Middle Grade (8-12 yrs) or Grades 3-7
When twelve-year-old June Harper’s parents discover what they deem an inappropriate library book, they take strict parenting to a whole new level. And everything June loves about Dogwood Middle School unravels: librarian Ms. Bradshaw is suspended, an author appearance is canceled, the library is gutted, and all books on the premises must have administrative approval.
But June can’t give up books . . . and she realizes she doesn’t have to when she spies a Little Free Library on her walk to school. As the rules become stricter at school and at home, June keeps turning the pages of the banned books that continue to appear in the little library. It’s a delicious secret . . . and one she can’t keep to herself. June starts a banned book library of her own in an abandoned locker at school. The risks grow alongside her library’s popularity, and a movement begins at Dogwood Middle–a movement that, if exposed, could destroy her. But if it’s powerful enough, maybe it can save Ms. Bradshaw and all that she represents: the freedom to read.
Equal parts fun and empowering, this novel explores censorship, freedom of speech, and activism. For any kid who doesn’t believe one person can effect change…and for all the kids who already know they can!
*Thank you to NetGalley &Random House Books for Young Readers for my copy of this e-book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.*
My Honest Thoughts:
I’m a rule follower to a fault. But this is one type of rebel I could align with – a Rebel Librarian! Before we get into what I love about this book, let’s get one minor distraction out of the way. It’s not really that negative and most middle grade students will likely not even notice the improbability surrounding the magnitude of books banned . Very drastic measures were taken in the library with regard to removal of “banned” books, which were challenged by parents in the school. In reality, librarians have additional resources that would have been implemented compared to what the librarian in the story was able to accomplish. But as I stated, I don’t think it detracts from the moral of the story. Now to get to it! This book made me want to stand up and cheer for the main character, June Harper. She respected authority while also challenging it. She had to make important decisions about who to align herself with. She asserted herself and stood up for what she believed – the right to read books of all kinds. I think this is a great read for 5-7th graders, although it is listed as middle grade. There is a bit of relationship drama that is more early YA, but nothing a mature middle grader can’t handle. As a book lover, little library hunter and mom to two daughters (age 6 and 10), this book is one that I will be purchasing for them to read. This would also make for a great discussion book for classrooms, families or kids book club. It introduces many topics that are important in our current culture, but brings them to a level that is understandable for middle grade to young adults. It has themes that embrace empowering young girls to stand up for what they know is right, encourages reading of diverse books and developing unlikely friendships. After reading this book, I would like to cheer aloud for the Rebel Librarian in us all! Stand up for the freedom to read!
“It’s dangerous, but I’ll be saving lives.” …..”Doctors without borders?” he asks. “No. I’m going to be a librarian.”