Illustrator: M. Sarah Klise
Published by Algonquin Young Readers on March 10, 2020
Genres: Middle Grade, Contemporary
Source: The Publisher
My content rating: MG
Is the sweet town of Appleton ripe for scandal?
Consider the facts:
- Appleton Elementary School has a new librarian named Rita B. Danjerous. (Say it fast.)
- Principal Noah Memree barely remembers hiring her.
- Ten-year-old Reid Durr is staying up way too late reading a book from Ms. Danjerous's controversial "green dot" collection.
- The new school board president has mandated a student dress code that includes white gloves and bow ties available only at her shop.
Sound strange? Fret not. Appleton's fifth-grade sleuths are following the money, embracing the punny, and determined to the get to the funniest, most rotten core of their town's juiciest scandal.
Don't miss this seedy saga from the creators of the award-winning Three-Ring Rascals and 43 Old Cemetery Road series!
Don’t Check Out This Book! is a fun, tongue-in-cheek exploration of the serious issue of censorship. The story is told in an epistolary format, completely through emails, newspaper articles, notes, etc. It follows the travails of the new school librarian at a tiny school (in my home state of Illinois). Rita B. Danjerous (yep, all the names in this book are puns—it’s quite fun) has some wild ideas about books, mainly that kids should have free and easy access to them, even to those books that might be about more embarrassing topics kids are curious about but may not necessarily want to openly talk about. But she comes up against a whole lot of opposition, especially in the form of the new school board president (Ivana Beprawpa—read it fast. Hint, she’s very concerned with raising up kids who are “proper”).
But Ms. Danjerous starts to win people over in her town with the power of her books! The format of this book works incredibly well. We get to know the various characters through their notes and through interviews in the newspaper (which are sometimes written by kids at the school). The humorous names and circumstances will keep kids entertained while they learn about standing up for themselves and winning people over with kindness (and firmness), not with negativity. And while things get tied up perhaps a little too neatly, I love that the kids take things into their own hands and really get involved. In the end, the kids solve most of the problems themselves with a little boost from their favorite librarian.
Don’t Check Out This Book! is thoroughly entertaining!
***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
About the Authors
Kate Klise is the award-winning author of more than 30 books for young readers, many of which are illustrated by her sister, M. Sarah Klise. On her way to becoming an author, Kate Klise worked as a babysitter, waitress, ice-skating instructor, and rosebush pruner. She was also a journalist and spent 15 years reporting for People magazine. When she’s not working on a new book, she enjoys traveling around the country, sharing her best writing tips and tricks with aspiring authors of all ages.
M. Sarah Klise has always had a fondness for creating colorful book reports, which began in elementary school with yarn-bound volumes on states and countries. In college, she enjoyed writing heavily illustrated letters home to her mother. Years later, she still does variations of all that when she illustrates books for young readers. She also teaches art classes in Berkley, CA.