cover image This Book Is Banned

This Book Is Banned

Raj Haldar, illus. by Julia Patton. Sourcebooks Explore, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-72827-656-4

Haldar and Patton employ absurdist hijinks to explore the practice of book banning in this admonishing volume. “Didn’t you read the title before you decided to open this book?! It’s banned,” begins pointed first-person narration, which goes on to tell how the title got to this place. It all begins with hippos’ petty complaint over giraffes “getting all the leaves for themselves,” which results in both being removed from the story. When the increasingly self-censoring narrator attempts various replacement subjects—a bed, a roller-skating robot, a birthday party, unicorns—each proves to be too contentious for inclusion (“Some people think dinosaurs are make believe? That’s silly, but all right”). By story’s end, readers will likely have had at least one beloved subject ousted—potentially prompting conversation about real-world events that prefatory remarks establish as “downright dangerous.” Patton’s draft-like renderings rely on pencil, collage, and digital techniques to emphasize the tale’s work-in-progress vibe. Ages 4–8. (Sept.)