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Attack of the Black Rectangles

de A. S. King

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18211152,623 (4.08)4
When sixth-grader Mac discovers several words of his classroom copy of Jane Yolen's The Devil's Arithmetic are blacked out he is outraged, so he, his friends, and his eccentric family set out to do something about the censorship imposed by one teacher and the school board.
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Es mostren 1-5 de 11 (següent | mostra-les totes)
I love AS King in general— she does a tremendous job at telling stories and at adding in the surreal elements that exist sometimes in our understanding of the world. It speaks to our intuition and to our suspicions about things that feel true but may not be.
Anyway. Loved this book. Loved Mac and his friends and his supportive family in a town of unreasonable rules. I love his grandad and how they yell out the things that they are afraid of and ashamed of. I love that they meditate and protest together. I love that Mac reminds people often and fervently of other viewpoints and perspectives— that he tries to center Native people and Black people in a place with a majority White context. I love that he and Marci have crushes on each other but decide that they’d rather wait to be romantic when they are older and just enjoy being friends, not least because it helps maintain their friendship with anxious, ace/aro Denis. I love the kindness that the whole family brings to the world. The grace. I love that Jane Yolen is the hero at the center of the book in her way — her books are amazing and I’ve met her, one summer I cleaned her house and she is exactly as cool as everyone suspects. I love that the holocaust is at the center of this book as well, and yet not the focus of the story. I love the weird and horrible surreal dad behavior, and how Mac is working through anger and disappointment and is succeeding. It’s a great book. Don’t treat kids like they don’t know what is going on. Tell them the truth. Respect people. What better messages are there than that? ( )
  jennybeast | Jul 8, 2024 |
Narrated by Pete Cross. Friends Mac, Marci and Denis discover that a word and sentence have been blacked out in their classroom copies of "The Devil's Arithmetic." They try to figure out who did it and why, and in the process find their voices to protest censorship to the school board. In a school and town that have a lot of petty rules and laws, Mac and Marci are progressive kids; Marci blames the patriarchy for censorship and school dress codes, and Mac calls out Ms Sett for teaching about Columbus as someone to be celebrated. The treatment of censorship can feel a bit heavy-handed and Ms Sett seems over the top as one who is picky about how society should behave. But the title fits the current climate of book banning, for those interested in fighting it. ( )
  Salsabrarian | Jul 2, 2024 |
Representation: Side Asian character
Trigger warnings: Mentions of the Vietnam War, mentions of the Holocaust

6/10, after reading some great books I was hoping that I would enjoy this one, sadly I didn't like this one as much as the other ones I've read due to the glaring flaws in this and I highly doubt that I'd pick this one up again however I'd like to see what other books this author has written and hopefully they could be better than this one. It begins with the main character Mac Delaney living in a town controlled by essentially a dictator called Ms. Sett who controls everything from curfews to junk food and even the colour people are allowed to paint their houses with but most importantly the books. Mac goes to 6th grade and has to read The Devil's Arithmetic which was about the Holocaust but he soon discovered that some words were blacked out. Somehow I didn't connect to this; maybe this is only a thing in this book but I don't see books with blacked-out words, no it just doesn't work like that, rather libraries just ban or reject the book entirely rather than getting it and then removing a few words like one time I saw my library reject a book because it mentioned suicide. Of course, Mac is frustrated by this and when he got the uncensored version the words that were blocked in the censored one were just words referring to female bodies but I didn't like the preachiness in this when he was sorry for the actions of people of his race in the past but he never did that; he also defined some LGBTQIA terms I already know and acknowledged the Native American tribes which detracted from the story. There was a part where Mac's father suffered from a mental illness yet somehow despite his mother and grandfather teaching him to call things out when they are wrong he never applied that to his father, I don't really know. The ending just petered out when some kids protested against the school council board and then held a silent protest but after that, Ms. Sett got rid of some restrictions; I'm not sure if she uncensored the books yet. ( )
  Law_Books600 | Nov 3, 2023 |
Mac Delaney lives in a small-town suburb of Philadelphia with his mother who works in hospice care and his grandfather who is a Vietnam War vet. The town isn’t particularly notable except that a handful of minority-viewpoint yet vocal folks have managed to convince local government to enact a variety of strange ordinances to purportedly keep the town safe, including enforcing a 9pm curfew, banning Halloween trick or treating, dictating that all houses must be painted white, and so on. One of the biggest proponents of all these strictures is Mac’s new teacher in sixth grade, although in school she seems more open. That is, until Mac and his fellow students notice that their reading assignment has certain words blackened out with a Sharpie marker. They are determined to take a stand against this censorship and so start researching the best ways to protest and speak up.

This was a very interesting title to read. I was a bit skeptical at the outset as the first few chapters seemed a little all over the place and introduced a lot of details, but it actually does all come together. Mac is concerned about truth, while having a father who he later deems a “liar,” although it seems likely that the man has some untreated mental illness. Despite himself wanting to point out uncomfortable truths (particularly around our country’s history of mistreating people of color), Mac is initially ill at ease with his friend Marci’s concern about women’s rights; however, that does come into play with the censored words and Mac ultimately sees the benefit of Marci’s feminist thinking and how it’s not just about elevating women to the same status as men but also freeing men from toxic ways of thinking and being.

As may be obvious by now, Mac and his close family are fairly liberal and politically active, but ultimately this book does show that everyone – regardless of their specific beliefs and political leanings – should care about preserving their right to read and their intellectual freedom. The book is actually somewhat lacking in diversity itself in terms of most characters being white, although that is addressed by Mac early on and there are also other ways that the book shows a lack of uniformity in people, as is true in life. The book that the students are reading in school is about the Holocaust and the students learn more about a few Jewish customs as a result. There is one classmate who is Asian, and another who is dealing with anxiety and later states being asexual. Mac’s living situation with a single parent and a grandparent is perhaps not that uncommon in real life, but still not the norm in children’s literature.

The book ends in a way that is cautiously optimistic about most of the problems raised, but not a tidy tying up of every negative thing in Mac’s life. I do like how the book did talk about his struggles with his feelings over all these events, and that both Mac and his grandfather were able to show emotion and even cry, normalizing this for boys and men. ( )
  sweetiegherkin | Oct 29, 2023 |
When the three main characters in this book find that their copies of The Devil's of Arithmetic have words blacked out, they decide to take action. From finding a copy that include the censored words to taking a stand within their school and community, the students push back against censorship in a town with heavy handed morality and community rules (no junk food?). The students remain the center of the activism, but get help from supportive adults.
The teacher at the center of the censorship remains a complex character but never directly speaks about her choice to censor words from stories in the text.
Sometimes veers into the didactic, but the characters are thoughtful, passionate, and determined. ( )
  ewyatt | Sep 5, 2023 |
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If you can't be direct, why be? - Lily Tomlin
. . . To be afraid of what is different or unfamiliar is to be afraid of life. - Theodore Roosevelt
A strong spirit transcends rules. - Prince
I am here to protect all of us from the ugly world. - Laura Samuel Sett
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For the truth tellers
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According to a lot of the adults in our town, everything here is perfect.
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I stop at the gratitude bead and I fall asleep to memories of me and Grandad over the years. I know my dad is my dad, but Grandad is my father.
I said I wouldn't say anything. Just–make your own mind up. That's what happens next. What happens next is people start making their own minds up about all kinds of things. Based on the truth.
Maybe this makes me too nice. So what? Then I'm too nice. Maybe it makes me a pushover. Whatever. Then I'm a pushover. If I got rid of all my feelings so I could be a mean person, I don't think I could ever forgive myself.
‘I'm scared that school is just a series of lies and people just keep repeating them and then we all have to live inside a big world of lies and I can't live like that, Grandad.' ‘That's why we fight the lies,' he says. He gestures to his protest sign.
It's hard to know when they're sitting right there at your dinner table with you, but people can be real jerks while you make up excuses for them.
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When sixth-grader Mac discovers several words of his classroom copy of Jane Yolen's The Devil's Arithmetic are blacked out he is outraged, so he, his friends, and his eccentric family set out to do something about the censorship imposed by one teacher and the school board.

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