cover image Answers in the Pages

Answers in the Pages

David Levithan. Knopf, $17.99 (176p) ISBN 978-0-593-48468-5

Set in a Virginia township, Levithan’s timely novel spotlights book banning through the perspectives of two fifth graders, which alternate with excerpts from a fictional novel. When his class’s teacher assigns The Adventurers—a book that ends with a vague acknowledgment of love between its male protagonists—Donovan Johnson inadvertently leaves it out on the kitchen counter. His mother picks it up, and soon complains to the principal about its “inappropriate content,” an event that not only upends Donovan’s life but also sets off a public book challenge that engages community members and other parents. In another classroom, Gideon White, who loves wordplay and turtles, notices his growing attraction to new student Roberto Garcio, with whom he’s paired for a unit on Harriet the Spy. And in rapidly paced fragments of The Adventurers, three kids develop close bonds while working to save the world from evil. Levithan smartly employs public and private discourse in a message-forward, interpersonally nuanced novel that centers moments of self-discovery, working themes of acceptance, bravery, friendship, and love into each of the three threads. Most characters read as white; Roberto cues as Latinx; a character in The Adventurers is portrayed as having dark skin. Ages 8–12. (May)