This Book Is Not for You!

Dial. Mar. 2022. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781984816856.
Gr 1-3–Stanley, who has black hair and light tan skin, rides his bike through a cornfield, eager to reach the bookmobile to select a new title. Right away he spots the intriguing cover of a likely candidate. Unfortunately, instead of the usual Ms. Christine running the bookmobile, Stanley finds an older white man who doesn’t think Stanley really wants to read a book with a (gasp!) female protagonist. Stanley watches in disbelief as a stream of patrons borrow the books that he wanted to read. A female friend named Valeria gets to read the book he first had his eye on, the cat gets to read the cat book, and the robot gets to read a robot book. In his heart Stanley knows that books shouldn’t be restricted to one gender (or species), but he is uncomfortable speaking up. Finally, after all the readers trade books and an intimidating allosaurus really wants to read about ponies, Stanley finds the courage to speak up for himself. The bookmobile man realizes that readers are interested in investigating all kinds of topics and diverse stories. While the book is a humorous and interesting exploration of the mirrors-and-windows children’s book ideal, as well as a lesson in how making assumptions about a person or their preferences can cause distress and confusion, some may find the portrayal of the bookmobile man to be ageist. There’s no insight into why he holds his outdated and offensive ideas, and other than his impressive set of eyebrows, his only distinguishing characteristic is that he’s old and seemingly out of touch. The illustrations are engaging, especially those depicting humans, animals, and even a robot enjoying a nice summer day’s reading under a tree.
VERDICT A nonessential purchase. Perhaps this is best taken as a reminder to kids that it’s OK to speak up; adults don’t always know best.

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