Celebrate the freedom to read with this timely, empowering middle-grade debut in the spirit of The View from Saturday or Frindle.
June Harper is a good kid. She follows the rules, plays flute in band, and spends her spare time reading. Nobody would ever call her a rebel . . . until her parents take strict parenting to a whole new level.
It starts with one book deemed "inappropriate" by June's parents. What follows is a massive book ban at Dogwood Middle School, and suddenly everything June lovesthe librarian, books, an author visitis gone. All seems hopeless. Then June discovers a Little Free Library on her walk to school. When her classmates realize she has access to contraband, she (secretly) becomes the most popular girl in school. A risky reading movement begins at Dogwood, which could destroy Juneor gain enough power to protect the one thing she cares most about: 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!
"[A] funny and fast read." School Library Journal
About the Author
Like librarian Ms. Bradshaw in Property of the Rebel Librarian, Allison Varnes has fought for her students. She taught English in special education for eight years and once had to convince administrators that The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is not an endorsement of witchcraft. She's from a family of teachers and has a PhD in education from the University of Tennessee. And like heroine June, Allison is a former marching-band geek. When she's not writing, she howls along to the Hamilton soundtrack with a trio of Chihuahuas named after Peanuts characters. Find her on Twitter at @allisonvarnes or on Facebook at facebook.com/allisonvarnesauthor.
Read an Excerpt
You’re going to read a lot about me and the things I’ve done. Most of it’s true.
I can’t help that, not that I’d want to.
I would do the exact same thing all over again if I had the chance.
It’s like when you read a sad book for the second time. You know the moment is coming, and you know it’s going to make you cry, but that doesn’t stop you. You read it anyway, because you love the story.
So take your time. I’ll just be sitting here, grounded for all eternity, while you read about the moments when everything fell together and apart. They’re all here. Every last one.
The front door swings open after I walk home from school, right on schedule. Except today, Dad holds my copy of The Makings of a Witch.
I grin up at him, but he doesn’t return my smile.
The flush of rising blood pressure snakes across Dad’s pale face to his ears. It looks like he raked his hand over his light brown hair a million times while pacing in front of the window. That’s what he did when they finally let Kate go out on her first date. Back and forth, back and forth, right in front of the window until she showed up on the doorstep. Except she made curfew and then the show was over. This one is just getting started, and I have no idea why.
Dad signals to the empty spot by Mom on the love seat.
“Would you care to explain this?” he says, holding up the novel.
I shrug. “Um, it’s a book?”
He stares at me through his tortoiseshell glasses until I look away. “Yes. One that we don’t approve of.”
I don’t understand. They’ve always been okay with the books I’ve read. I squirm on the stiff cushions. “Dad, it’s just a book. I”
“What concerns me more than anything”he taps the bar code sticker“is that it’s from the Dogwood Middle library, of all places.”
The grandfather clock ticks away the seconds while I squirm. I can’t watch TV or use the family computer without someone looking over my shoulder, but books have always been safe. Mom cross-stitched readers are winners on a couch pillow to prove it.
“No buts, June. You know the rules.”
Dad is president of the PTSA, and he keeps his thumb on everything at Dogwood Middle. Especially me. It doesn’t matter that I’m twelve and have never, ever given Dad a real reason to worry. Did anyone ask me to the school dance last week? Nope. Why would they, when he’d follow us the whole time?
The best part of Dad’s day is hassling my teachers about posting my grades online. Easy to do because he works from home as a tech consultant. It’s so embarrassing. Sixth grade was bad enough, but things got ten times worse in August when Kate left for college.
Dad gently taps the novel against his knee. “Missing kids. Witches. It’s too scary for you.”
“No, it isn’t! I like creepy stuff. If you’d just”
“No. This sort of thing won’t happen again. Understand, June, it’s our job to protect you. It would be nice if you’d meet us halfway. Until you do, you’re grounded. No TV. No phone. No internet.”
“What?” I’ve never even been grounded before.
“You heard me. Rules are rules.”
Mom shakes her head with disappointment.
Shame creeps up my face, making me flush red like I always do when I’m upset. I want to crawl under the couch. Was it wrong of me to read that book?
“I’ll return it after school tomorrow,” Mom says.
Oh no. Tomorrow is our last game of the season, and Mom will be there anyway because she runs the uniform closet for our marching band. I can’t believe this is happening. Poor Ms. Bradshaw, the librarian, is going to get a visit from my mom, and then there won’t be a hole big enough for me to hide in.
What have I done?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The girl in this book reminded me of me so hard! I was that kid that read all the time and my mom was like "UM WHAT ARE YOU READING?" when I brought home heavily talked about books like Harry Potter and more. But thankfully, she didn't do the things that happened in this book. June Harper is 12 years old and loves to read. Until her parents deem something she's read as inappropriate and begins messing with everything she holds dear: the librarian, the library, and the freedom to choose what to read. Everything about this screamed me when I was little. I have always been the only one who loved to read and I remember vividly when someone challenged Harry Potter when I was reading it and my mom told me to slow down with them. I couldn't imagine going through what June did. This is what drew me towards this book. I saw so much of me in this character and I hope other children do too. The one thing I didn't care for, was the ending. It was this whole ordeal and she started this revolution, and yet the ending was just, "they won't change and you are still grounded. DONE. It was really uneventful. I loved that readers can have an example of change and not to be afraid of it. I hope this book also sparks some interest in adults to show them that censorship is never good and though they might be young, children know what they want to read. They are the future, don't ever count them out.
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!
Today (September 18, 2018) is Property of the Rebel Librarian's release day! I completely recommend purchasing it, reading it, and then sharing it with your students and/or children! Allison Varnes is brilliant at making her readers feel self-confident and enjoy a good laugh. The message is clear; little people can do big things, one person can make a difference, and books should not be censored. From the publisher: 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! Next week (September 23-29, 2018) is Banned Books week. Banned Books Week is the annual celebration of the freedom to read. The event is sponsored by a coalition of organizations dedicated to free expression. Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community — librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types — in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular. This would be the perfect read aloud to make those aware of books that have been banned due to their material of various sorts and encourage those to speak out for those books that have been silenced. Reviews Published I would like to thank Netgalley for the advanced digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I read this book as a part of my #BookaDay Reading Challenge, inspired by Donalyn Miller. My goal is to read at least one children's literature book every weekday and share my thoughts here on my blog. Please feel free to subscribe or connect with me on social media to follow my journey through the books I read. Until next time ...