You Can’t Say That! Writers for Young People Talk About Censorship, Free Expression, and the Stories They Have to Tell

Candlewick. Jul. 2021. 240p. ed. by Marcus, Leonard S. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780763690366.
Gr 7 Up–This work is a compilation of conversations Marcus had with writers of children’s and YA titles that have been included on the American Library Association’s lists of most banned books. Authors featured include some of the biggest names in youth literature such as R.L. Stine, Angie Thomas, Dav Pilkey, and Katherine Paterson. The book covers well-known, frequently banned titles such as Heather Has Two Mommies, It’s Perfectly Normal, and Bridge to Terabithia, and some that readers might not expect, such as the works of Matt de la Peña and Meg Medina. Marcus prefaces each conversation with a brief, interesting summary of the author’s life and work. Conversations cover the authors’ experiences of how their books came to be banned and their reactions, often including stories of their involvement in fighting the censorship. Each conversation is frank and utterly engrossing. Familiarity with the banned books discussed is not necessary to be absorbed in the discussions, which will certainly send readers to seek out the titles. Librarians and lovers of youth literature will feel like they are a part of conversations between old friends and gain new understanding into the value of their everyday work. Those studying censorship will find important primary sources and gain useful insight on how harmful censorship can be to young lives. Marcus also includes a concise, informative history of censorship and banned books in the United States.
VERDICT This important work is highly recommended for all libraries serving teens and scholars.

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