This Book Is Not for You!

h1 April 12th, 2022 by jules


Shannon Hale’s and Tracy Subisak’s This Book Is Not for You! (Dial, April 2022) is the story of Stanley. Poor Stanley. Excitedly, he heads to the bookmobile. You can tell he’s a kid who loves to read. Ms. Christine, the regular bookmobile worker, is not there. When Stanley tries to check out The Mysterious Sandwich, the subtitute librarian tells him it’s a book for girls, and Stanley is embarrassed for being called out about his reading choices. And when Stanley’s friend Valeria appears, the librarian gives her the book. The cat gets a book about cats, and when Stanley asks for a robot book, the old man says that only robots can read robot books. “Stanley smiled,” we read. “He had to be joking, right?” We are with you, Stanley. We. are. with. you.

A robot rolls up to the bookmobile and takes the book in question. Everyone lies in the grass, reading — even a bird has grabbed a book, and a snake and other creatures appear for some reading time (the snake, as you can see below, precariously balancing the book on its body, given the no-hands conundrum) — but Stanley isn’t there, because he still doesn’t have a book. He almost gets one about a pirate adveneture, but: “Oops, the main character is another girl.” If you think Stanley zips off in frustration on his bike to never return, you’d be right. Sort of. He imagines doing such a thing, but he sticks around to be handed The Squelching Peach. Eventually, everyone trades books — and when an allosaurus appears who wants a book about ponies, he gets what he wants. Stanley decides to follow suit: “THIS BOOK SOUNDS INTERESTING SO I WOULD LIKE TO CHECK IT OUT,” he yells. Ah, success.

If this sounds ridiculous, it’s not. Some adults are fond of limiting children’s reading choices, even if no robots are involved. You can read about it here, here, or here (because you always read Donalyn Miller, right?). There are many adults out in the world a lot like this old man who think that a reader’s gender matters and that said gender should be paired with the subject matter of a book. (There are other reading atrocities out in the world — and we seem to be reading about new ones on a daily basis anymore — but this particular substitute librarian is a fan of gendering the books he recommends.) And the part where Stanley imagines storming off? This happens to a lot of readers in real life. (Thank goodness Stanley witnessed one patron’s stubborn, no-nonsense approach to getting books.) Shannon Hale and Tracy Subisak bring a story about the folly of all this straight to children, many of whom will feel relieved to see that some adults actually believe it’s okay for them to read whatever they want. And I, for one, am glad they did so.

The dialogue here is spot-on (the best is when Valeria turns to Stanley, having finished the book she was given, to say: “Wow. I’d never realized that a sandwich could be so mysterious!”), and Subisak’s expresssive, warmly colored illustrations light up the story. Her use of speech-balloon dialogue will please fans of comics. Here are some spreads so that you can see for yourself. …



(Two images above: Click either one to see spread in its entirety)



(Two images above: Click either one to see spread in its entirety)


“Stanley got so into Valeria’s book, he forgot where he was. …”
(Click spread to enlarge and read text in its entirety)


“Stanley settled into the crook of the allosaurus’s leg and started to read. …”
(Click spread to enlarge and read text in its entirety)


(Click cover to enlarge)


* * * * * * *

THIS BOOK IS NOT FOR YOU! Text copyright © 2022 by Shannon Hale. Illustrations copyright © 2022 by Tracy Subisak and reproduced by permission of the publisher, Dial Books for Young Readers, New York.

3 comments to “This Book Is Not for You!

  1. I love Shannon Hale, but I have to say I am completely perplexed by this book. Librarians are fighting tool and nail to keep books about whatever topic anybody wants to read about on the shelf. This is a weirdly out-dated and totally inaccurate depiction of what librarians do and stand for. I’m surprised Hale would write this.

  2. *tooth

  3. I’m so sorry I missed this comment earlier, Dana. … I understand what you are saying. I didn’t think of the book in this way at all, probably because I’ve seen this happen with many adults (not restricted to librarians). It’s actually the kind of picture book I hope some adults get their hands on. … Thanks for the comment!

Leave a Comment

Should you have trouble posting, please contact Thanks.