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Property of the Rebel Librarian

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Celebrate the freedom to read with this timely, empowering middle-grade debut about a girl who fights back against banned books in the spirit of The View from Saturday or Frindle.

When twelve-year-old June Harper's parents discover what they deem an inappropriate library book, they take strict parenting to a whole new level. And everything June loves about Dogwood Middle School unravels: librarian Ms. Bradshaw is suspended, an author appearance is canceled, the library is gutted, and all books on the premises must have administrative approval.

But June can't give up books . . . and she realizes she doesn't have to when she spies a Little Free Library on her walk to school. As the rules become stricter at school and at home, June keeps turning the pages of the banned books that continue to appear in the little library. It's a delicious secret . . . and one she can't keep to herself. June starts a banned book library of her own in an abandoned locker at school. The risks grow alongside her library's popularity, and a movement begins at Dogwood Middle--a movement that, if exposed, could destroy her. But if it's powerful enough, maybe it can save Ms. Bradshaw and all that she represents: the freedom to read.

Equal parts fun and empowering, this novel explores censorship, freedom of speech, and activism. For any kid who doesn't believe one person can effect change...and for all the kids who already know they can!
Allison Varnes taught English in special education for eight years and once had to convince administrators that The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is not an endorsement of witchcraft. She's from a family of teachers and has a PhD in education from the University of Tennessee. When she's not writing, she howls along to the Hamilton soundtrack with a trio of Chihuahuas named after Peanuts characters. Find her on Twitter at @allisonvarnes or on Facebook at facebook.com/allisonvarnesauthor. View titles by Allison Varnes

You’re going to read a lot about me and the things I’ve done. Most of it’s true.

 

I can’t help that, not that I’d want to.

 

I would do the exact same thing all over again if I had the chance.

 

It’s like when you read a sad book for the second time. You know the moment is coming, and you know it’s going to make you cry, but that doesn’t stop you. You read it anyway, because you love the story.

 

So take your time. I’ll just be sitting here, grounded for all eternity, while you read about the moments when everything fell together and apart. They’re all here. Every last one.

 

 

 

The front door swings open after I walk home from school, right on schedule. Except today, Dad holds my copy of The Makings of a Witch.

 

I grin up at him, but he doesn’t return my smile.

 

The flush of rising blood pressure snakes across Dad’s pale face to his ears. It looks like he raked his hand over his light brown hair a million times while pacing in front of the window. That’s what he did when they finally let Kate go out on her first date. Back and forth, back and forth, right in front of the window until she showed up on the doorstep. Except she made curfew and then the show was over. This one is just getting started, and I have no idea why.

 

Dad signals to the empty spot by Mom on the love seat.

 

“Would you care to explain this?” he says, holding up the novel.

 

I shrug. “Um, it’s a book?”

 

He stares at me through his tortoiseshell glasses until I look away. “Yes. One that we don’t approve of.”

 

I don’t understand. They’ve always been okay with the books I’ve read. I squirm on the stiff cushions. “Dad, it’s just a book. I--”

 

“What concerns me more than anything”--he taps the bar code sticker--“is that it’s from the Dogwood Middle library, of all places.”

 

The grandfather clock ticks away the seconds while I squirm. I can’t watch TV or use the family computer without someone looking over my shoulder, but books have always been safe. Mom cross-stitched readers are winners on a couch pillow to prove it.

 

“Dad, I--”

 

“No buts, June. You know the rules.”

 

Dad is president of the PTSA, and he keeps his thumb on everything at Dogwood Middle. Especially me. It doesn’t matter that I’m twelve and have never, ever given Dad a real reason to worry. Did anyone ask me to the school dance last week? Nope. Why would they, when he’d follow us the whole time?

 

The best part of Dad’s day is hassling my teachers about posting my grades online. Easy to do because he works from home as a tech consultant. It’s so embarrassing. Sixth grade was bad enough, but things got ten times worse in August when Kate left for college.

 

Dad gently taps the novel against his knee. “Missing kids. Witches. It’s too scary for you.”

 

“No, it isn’t! I like creepy stuff. If you’d just--”

 

“No. This sort of thing won’t happen again. Understand, June, it’s our job to protect you. It would be nice if you’d meet us halfway. Until you do, you’re grounded. No TV. No phone. No internet.”

 

“What?” I’ve never even been grounded before.

 

“You heard me. Rules are rules.”

 

Mom shakes her head with disappointment.

 

Shame creeps up my face, making me flush red like I always do when I’m upset. I want to crawl under the couch. Was it wrong of me to read that book?

 

“I’ll return it after school tomorrow,” Mom says.

 

Oh no. Tomorrow is our last game of the season, and Mom will be there anyway because she runs the uniform closet for our marching band. I can’t believe this is happening. Poor Ms. Bradshaw, the librarian, is going to get a visit from my mom, and then there won’t be a hole big enough for me to hide in.

 

What have I done?

Educator Guide for Property of the Rebel Librarian

Classroom-based guides appropriate for schools and colleges provide pre-reading and classroom activities, discussion questions connected to the curriculum, further reading, and resources.

(Please note: the guide displayed here is the most recently uploaded version; while unlikely, any page citation discrepancies between the guide and book is likely due to pagination differences between a book’s different formats.)

“In our censorious times, that battle and the extremes through which [the story] is depicted are enough to keep the pages turning. [But] it is the choices that June makes about her own life that give this novel its solidity and meaning.”—The New York Times Book Review

“This debut novel tackles the issue of censorship in a humorous and engaging way. June is a worthy and winsome heroine who is sure to charm. . . . This funny and fast read could be used to fuel discussions about book banning, censorship in general, and activism.”—School Library Journal

“[Varnes’s] take . . . drives home important points about bureaucracy, oversight, and freedom.”—Booklist

“An accessible introduction to the importance of the freedom to read.”—Kirkus Reviews

About

Celebrate the freedom to read with this timely, empowering middle-grade debut about a girl who fights back against banned books in the spirit of The View from Saturday or Frindle.

When twelve-year-old June Harper's parents discover what they deem an inappropriate library book, they take strict parenting to a whole new level. And everything June loves about Dogwood Middle School unravels: librarian Ms. Bradshaw is suspended, an author appearance is canceled, the library is gutted, and all books on the premises must have administrative approval.

But June can't give up books . . . and she realizes she doesn't have to when she spies a Little Free Library on her walk to school. As the rules become stricter at school and at home, June keeps turning the pages of the banned books that continue to appear in the little library. It's a delicious secret . . . and one she can't keep to herself. June starts a banned book library of her own in an abandoned locker at school. The risks grow alongside her library's popularity, and a movement begins at Dogwood Middle--a movement that, if exposed, could destroy her. But if it's powerful enough, maybe it can save Ms. Bradshaw and all that she represents: the freedom to read.

Equal parts fun and empowering, this novel explores censorship, freedom of speech, and activism. For any kid who doesn't believe one person can effect change...and for all the kids who already know they can!

Author

Allison Varnes taught English in special education for eight years and once had to convince administrators that The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is not an endorsement of witchcraft. She's from a family of teachers and has a PhD in education from the University of Tennessee. When she's not writing, she howls along to the Hamilton soundtrack with a trio of Chihuahuas named after Peanuts characters. Find her on Twitter at @allisonvarnes or on Facebook at facebook.com/allisonvarnesauthor. View titles by Allison Varnes

Excerpt

You’re going to read a lot about me and the things I’ve done. Most of it’s true.

 

I can’t help that, not that I’d want to.

 

I would do the exact same thing all over again if I had the chance.

 

It’s like when you read a sad book for the second time. You know the moment is coming, and you know it’s going to make you cry, but that doesn’t stop you. You read it anyway, because you love the story.

 

So take your time. I’ll just be sitting here, grounded for all eternity, while you read about the moments when everything fell together and apart. They’re all here. Every last one.

 

 

 

The front door swings open after I walk home from school, right on schedule. Except today, Dad holds my copy of The Makings of a Witch.

 

I grin up at him, but he doesn’t return my smile.

 

The flush of rising blood pressure snakes across Dad’s pale face to his ears. It looks like he raked his hand over his light brown hair a million times while pacing in front of the window. That’s what he did when they finally let Kate go out on her first date. Back and forth, back and forth, right in front of the window until she showed up on the doorstep. Except she made curfew and then the show was over. This one is just getting started, and I have no idea why.

 

Dad signals to the empty spot by Mom on the love seat.

 

“Would you care to explain this?” he says, holding up the novel.

 

I shrug. “Um, it’s a book?”

 

He stares at me through his tortoiseshell glasses until I look away. “Yes. One that we don’t approve of.”

 

I don’t understand. They’ve always been okay with the books I’ve read. I squirm on the stiff cushions. “Dad, it’s just a book. I--”

 

“What concerns me more than anything”--he taps the bar code sticker--“is that it’s from the Dogwood Middle library, of all places.”

 

The grandfather clock ticks away the seconds while I squirm. I can’t watch TV or use the family computer without someone looking over my shoulder, but books have always been safe. Mom cross-stitched readers are winners on a couch pillow to prove it.

 

“Dad, I--”

 

“No buts, June. You know the rules.”

 

Dad is president of the PTSA, and he keeps his thumb on everything at Dogwood Middle. Especially me. It doesn’t matter that I’m twelve and have never, ever given Dad a real reason to worry. Did anyone ask me to the school dance last week? Nope. Why would they, when he’d follow us the whole time?

 

The best part of Dad’s day is hassling my teachers about posting my grades online. Easy to do because he works from home as a tech consultant. It’s so embarrassing. Sixth grade was bad enough, but things got ten times worse in August when Kate left for college.

 

Dad gently taps the novel against his knee. “Missing kids. Witches. It’s too scary for you.”

 

“No, it isn’t! I like creepy stuff. If you’d just--”

 

“No. This sort of thing won’t happen again. Understand, June, it’s our job to protect you. It would be nice if you’d meet us halfway. Until you do, you’re grounded. No TV. No phone. No internet.”

 

“What?” I’ve never even been grounded before.

 

“You heard me. Rules are rules.”

 

Mom shakes her head with disappointment.

 

Shame creeps up my face, making me flush red like I always do when I’m upset. I want to crawl under the couch. Was it wrong of me to read that book?

 

“I’ll return it after school tomorrow,” Mom says.

 

Oh no. Tomorrow is our last game of the season, and Mom will be there anyway because she runs the uniform closet for our marching band. I can’t believe this is happening. Poor Ms. Bradshaw, the librarian, is going to get a visit from my mom, and then there won’t be a hole big enough for me to hide in.

 

What have I done?

Guides

Educator Guide for Property of the Rebel Librarian

Classroom-based guides appropriate for schools and colleges provide pre-reading and classroom activities, discussion questions connected to the curriculum, further reading, and resources.

(Please note: the guide displayed here is the most recently uploaded version; while unlikely, any page citation discrepancies between the guide and book is likely due to pagination differences between a book’s different formats.)

Praise

“In our censorious times, that battle and the extremes through which [the story] is depicted are enough to keep the pages turning. [But] it is the choices that June makes about her own life that give this novel its solidity and meaning.”—The New York Times Book Review

“This debut novel tackles the issue of censorship in a humorous and engaging way. June is a worthy and winsome heroine who is sure to charm. . . . This funny and fast read could be used to fuel discussions about book banning, censorship in general, and activism.”—School Library Journal

“[Varnes’s] take . . . drives home important points about bureaucracy, oversight, and freedom.”—Booklist

“An accessible introduction to the importance of the freedom to read.”—Kirkus Reviews

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