Answers in the Pages
Insightful, sweet, funny, exciting exploration of book bans.
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that David Levithan's Answers in the Pages is a middle-grade story about an attempt by parents to have a book removed from a fifth-grade curriculum because the story reveals that two boys love each other. Book banning, representation in books, and how books are interpreted are important themes. Violence is in the fantasy realm from the story within the story and includes kids in danger from a villain. Nothing's gory or specifically described, there's some mild peril and suspense, and everything has a safe resolution. Twelve-year-olds kiss several times, but it's not described.
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What's the Story?
Donovan hopes to find ANSWERS IN THE PAGES after his mom sees a part of his assigned reading that she thinks is inappropriate for his fifth-grade class. But even after he reads the whole book, he doesn't see what the big deal is. In another fifth-grade class, Gideon and new-kid Ricardo team up for a project on a different book and notice their feelings for each other growing deeper as they get to know each other. Meanwhile, a trio of 12-year-olds try to stop an evil villain from acquiring a doomsday code that will give him control over the whole world.
Is It Any Good?
This is a thoughtful and thought-provoking exploration of a range of reactions to efforts to ban a book from being taught to fifth-graders. Answers in the Pages has a clear point of view against banning books, but it treats all characters, including those who are in favor of the ban, with care and respect. Veteran author David Levithan carefully raises and explores issues facing middle-graders like friendship, censorship, love, and family in ways that are easy to understand without feeling talked down to.
Weaving between the two fifth-grade classes and the exciting adventure story within the story keeps the plot moving and the pages turning. And the novel showcases the value of deep, lifelong friendship.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about book banning in Answers in the Pages. Do you think the fictional novel The Adventurers would be a good choice for fifth graders? Why, or why not?
Mr. Howe, the teacher who chose The Adventurers, says it doesn't matter whether the characters are gay or not for deciding whether to teach it or ban it. Why does he say that? What does matter?
How do the characters model communication and teamwork? Are they good role models? Who's your favorite character, and why?
- Author: David Levithan
- Genre: Contemporary Fiction
- Topics: Activism, Adventures, Friendship, Great Boy Role Models, Great Girl Role Models
- Character Strengths: Communication, Teamwork
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
- Publication date: May 10, 2022
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 176
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Award: Common Sense Selection
- Last updated: June 2, 2022
Our Editors Recommend
Bridge to Terabithia
Honest, moving story of friendship and loss.
Fourth grader identifies as a girl in tender tale.
Ivy Aberdeen's Letter to the World
First stirrings of girl's same-sex crush gently handled.
For kids who love friendship stories and books with LGBTQ+ characters
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