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You Can't Say That! by
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You Can't Say That!

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You Can't Say That! by
Paperback $14.99
Aug 22, 2023 | ISBN 9781536232974

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  • Aug 22, 2023 | ISBN 9781536232974 | Middle Grade (10 and up)

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  • Sep 16, 2021 | ISBN 9780763690366 | Middle Grade (10 and up)

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Product Details


‘You Can’t Say That,’ a collection of interviews conducted by the children’s literature expert Leonard S. Marcus, offers an antidote to the censors, elevating the voices of 13 authors whose books for kids have been challenged. Marcus probes not just what made these works controversial, but also the life paths that led the writers to pursue their subjects, and how they reacted to campaigns to muzzle their work — all of which are sure to interest their young fans, as well as students of free speech.
—The New York Times Book Review

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.
—School Library Journal (starred review)

Conversations exploring the writers’ childhoods and creative lives evolve gracefully into discussions of censorship experiences. . . Many interviews highlight the crucial role of librarians in fighting for public access to books. . . this is a thoughtful examination of the barriers young people may face when seeking “polemical” reading material, with high crossover appeal.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Marcus begins his book with an informative and enlightening Introduction that charts the history of censorship and then proceeds to the interviews. . . . Marcus has clearly done his homework, his questions and comments reflecting wide reading of each of his subject’s work. . . . Marcus’ book is essential reading for all of those who treasure free speech.
—Booklist (starred review)

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. . . . A calm, cohesive take on a hot-button issue.
—Kirkus Reviews

Marcus, author of many great interviews for The Horn Book Magazine, here compiles interviews with thirteen authors of books that have created what the great John Lewis called “good trouble.”. . . In all cases, Marcus provides welcome context in each author’s work and life as a whole, demonstrating that intellectual freedom is a right that permeates all creative work.
—The Horn Book

Hurt, aghast, defensive, baffled, dismissive, defiant: these are feelings authors might have about a challenge to their work, and here Marcus interviews thirteen writers who have been down this emotionally fraught road to probe how defense of their right to write and readers’ right to read is vital to democracy. Highlighted are books and authors that middle to upper graders will recognize, such as Meg Medina, Robie Harris, and David Levithan, but regardless of familiarity readers will contrast the individuality of authors’ sensitivities and priorities—there’s nuance, for example, on #ownvoices, on moving rather than removing library books, on what constitutes self-censorship, on whether subsequent editions should be revised.
—The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

This title focuses on thirteen children’s and YA authors whose works have been challenged, banned, and/or generally condemned by individuals or groups due to their treatment and/or inclusion of race, sex, sexual orientation, language, "crude" humor, scariness, and more. . . . Marcus does not shy away from discussions of "soft" censorship—the reality that sometimes books are not purchased by individual teachers or librarians because they lack the confidence, comfort, or courage to defend what might be deemed as controversial material.
—School Library Connection


NCSS-CBC Notable Trade Books for Young People AWARD 2022

School Library Journal Best Book of the Year AWARD 2021

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