You Can't Say That! : Writers for Young People Talk About Censorship, Free Expression, and the Stories They Have to Tell
by Marcus, Leonard S.

Matt De La Pena
Robie H. Harris
Susan Kuklin
David Levithan
Meg Medina
Leslea Newman
Katherine Paterson
Dav Pilkey
Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
Sonya Sones
R. L. Stine
Angie Thomas
Source Notes205(4)
Selected Reading209(4)

Sharing candid interviews with thirteen top children's and young adult authors who discuss why their books have faced censorship, an historian and critic puts First Amendment challenges into historical context and examines the support network that protects and defends young people's rights.

Leonard S. Marcus is one of the world's leading writers about children's books and the people who create them. He is the award-winning author of more than twenty-five books, including Show Me a Story! Why Picture Books Matter; Dear Genius: The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom; The Wand in the Word: Conversations with Writers of Fantasy; Funny Business: Conversations with Writers of Comedy; and Comics Confidential: Thirteen Graphic Novelists Talk Story, Craft, and Life Outside the Box. His essays, interviews, and reviews appear in the New York Times Book Review and Horn Book magazine. A founding trustee of the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, he teaches at New York University and the School of Visual Arts and lectures about his work across the world. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

*Starred Review* Like cockroaches, there will always be censors. Sternly telling us "You can't say that," they make it their business to challenge free expression and the unfettered sharing of stories. Acknowledging that reality, the always-erudite Marcus has interviewed 13 leading authors of books for young readers-both children and young adults-about their own experiences of censorship. His subjects range widely, from Dav Pilkey to Katherine Paterson, David Levithan to R. L. Stine, Angie Thomas to Lesléa Newman, and beyond. Marcus begins his book with an informative and enlightening introduction that charts the history of censorship and then proceeds to the interviews. Each of them is prefaced with a portrait and a generous contextual introduction. The scope of each interview that follows often extends beyond discussion of individual experiences of censorship to conversations about the authors' lives and their bodies of work. Marcus has clearly done his homework, his questions and comments reflecting wide reading of each of his subject's work. Their answers are unfailingly eloquent and insightful. A common theme of the pieces is praise for the courageous librarians and teachers who have risen to local challenges, joining the authors in boldly asserting that you can say that. Marcus' book is essential reading for all of those who treasure free speech. Grades 7-12. Copyright 2021 Booklist Reviews.

Thirteen prominent authors of children's and young adult literature talk about one thing they all have in common: All have been the targets of attempts to ban or remove their work from schools and libraries. Editor Marcus, a noted scholar who interviewed each writer, focuses his introduction on the history of censorship, including a simplistic summation of controversies around Adventures of Huckleberry Finn that spells out the N-word. Each author discusses their work, their personal history, and the reasons why they've been censored. Some, like Robie H. Harris and Susan Kuklin, came under attack for discussing sexuality and gender identity. Others, like Angie Thomas and Katherine Paterson, met with objections to swearing (in Thomas' case, likely a cover for objections to political content). R.L. Stine faced accusations of his books' promoting the occult. All the authors are positioned as important, powerful voices attacked by conservative censors, and the title may leave readers with the belief that any and all objections are equally wrong. Not taken into account are the subjects of librarians' weeding collections of titles that may contain offensive stereotypes or booksellers' deciding whether to stock books criticized for representation seen as harmful. While the text is accessible to middle schoolers, the content may be more interesting for adults in education and the publishing industry, though it disappointingly lacks a fully balanced spectrum of views and sacrifices complexity for a uniform message. A calm, cohesive take on a hot-button issue. (source notes, selected reading, index) (Nonfiction. 13-adult) Copyright Kirkus 2021 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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