#1259 – DON’T CHECK OUT THIS BOOK by Kate Klise & M. Sarah Klise



Written by Kate Klise
Illustrated by M. Sarah Klise
Algonquin Young Readers 3/10/2020
160 Pages   Age 8—12

Genre:  Middle Grade Book, Fiction
Themes: Books, Word Puns, Censorship, Creativity



Is the sweet town of Appleton ripe for scandal? Consider the facts:

      • Appleton Elementary School has a new librarian named Rita B. Danjerous. (Say it fast.)
          • Principal Noah Memree barely remembers hiring her.
      • Ten-year-old Reid Durr is staying up way too late reading a book from Ms. Danjerous’s controversial “green dot” collection.
        • The new school board president has mandated a student dress code that includes white gloves and bow ties available only at her shop.

Sound strange? Fret not. Appleton’s fifth-grade sleuths are following the money, embracing the punny, and determined to the get to the funniest, most rotten core of their town’s juiciest scandal. Don’t miss this seedy saga from the creators of the award-winning Three-Ring Rascals and 43 Old Cemetery Road series! (from back cover)

Opening Sentences

“Welcome to Appleton, Illinois Home of the Giant Red Apples
Population: 800 713 620 479 198 83”

Why I like Don’t Check Out This Book

Librarian Rita B. Danjerous arrives at Appleton Elementary School with her fifth grade daughter May. Problem is, the principal, Mr. Memree, has no recollection of hiring a librarian.  Plus, the library is stacked high with desks and chairs, but no books. The books, all devoured by mold, were tossed. Ms. Danjerous must create a library out of a janitor’s closet. Fortunately, she brings her own books, including a special set of books called the “Green Dot Collection.” The collection is special for many reasons, one of which is a no-checkout-required policy. Kids simply slip a book into their backpack and return it when finished.

Beginning this year there is also a new school board president (and only board member), Ivana Beprawpa. She requires all students to wear uniforms (available exclusively at Beprawpa Attire) and use proper manners. Among other clothing, boys must wear bow ties and girls must wear white gloves. News of the Green Dot Collection upsets Ms. Beprawpa and she sets about trying to fire the new librarian. That is, when she is not trying to fund-raise enough money to pay off two loans, a produce credit for 10,000 pickles, and ads in the local newspaper, The Daily Apple. She is in quite a bind, and not a very proper one at that.

Everyone likes the new librarian and soon students, staff, and adults in town request and borrow books. Kids are caught with flashlights, reading late into the night. Even the principal reads in long spurts, staying locked in his office for days. The small town’s newfound love of reading is further proof to Beprawpa that banning the Green Dot Collection should be her mission; that and getting pickles on the lunch menu.

Don’t Check Out This Book is a fun story told exclusively in memos, texts, newspaper articles, and letters. It is amazing how quickly one can read these items, making the story a fast read. Reluctant readers will enjoy the piecemeal feel of the story, which allows them to stop at any point or re-read a section without losing track of the story as a whole. Character names are all word plays (mostly easy to decipher). The Klise sisters seem to like word plays and puns and are adept at delivering this type of content. Readers will smile when they come across these little nuggets of fun.

The strongest characters are all female. This includes school secretary Gladys Friday, Banker Penny Counter, librarian Rita B. Danjerous, and of course, villainess Ivana Beprawpa, who never strays from her mean, vindictive self.  Male role models do exist in Appleton. Cy Durr, the apple farmer, is a strong stand-up guy, always there for his child and his town.

The two fifth-grade boys who love designing and turn out very popular personalized bow ties, are a favorite of mine. The boys seem close enough to be more than just best friends. No one judges the boys and only Ms. Danjerous refers to their close friendship when she says it’s important (for her) “protecting two boys who want to hang out together and sew.”  I think the creative sister team of Kate and Sarah Klise might have left this relationship up to readers to decide.

Initially I received a NetGalley Kindle book, but the heavy reliance on illustrations made it difficult to read. Many images never appeared on the screen or did so on odd pages, leaving other text cut mid-sentence. Fortunately, the publisher sent an ARC, saving the review and giving me an excellent story to read while laughing nearly non-stop.

Early middle-grade readers up to advanced readers (and adults who like middle grade books), will find Don’t Check Out This Book entertaining and thought-provoking. Censorship of one book or an entire collection will not work when there are creative people, such as Ms. Danjerous, who always find ways to share those books. In addition to these subjects, readers will get a laughable look at politics of the absurd and the ability of smart kids to overcome stupid adults.  If this is a series, I whole-heartedly welcome the next book. (680 words)

Favorite Scene

I love the two fifth-grade super sleuths Sarah Bellum and May B Danjerous, student reporters for The Daily Apple. They keep track of more than goings on at school. They give villainess Beprawpa the tools to do her job, knowing (I believe) that she will use them incorrectly and hang herself. To help Ms. Beprawpa avoid any conflicts-of-interest the girls send her stationary for the school board president position.  Beprawpa repays the girls by using the stationary to hand out demerits—to Sarah and May.   

Illustrations Rendered in black and white and grey tones.

Available at Amazon

DON’T CHECK OUT THIS BOOK. Text Copyright © 2020 by Kate Klise. Illustrations copyright © 2020 by M. Sarah Klise. Published by Algonquin Young Readers/Workman Publishing, New York, NY.


Copyright © 2020 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved

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