It all started the day my favorite book went missing from the library.
I didn’t know it was missing. Not yet. In my mind, it was still
sitting there all alone on the shelf like a kid in the cafeteria waiting for
her one and only friend to come and find her. Waiting for me to find
her. All I wanted to do was run to the library and check out my favorite book
before homeroom, but Rebecca, my one and only real-life friend, was still
talking about trademarking our names.
“Have you ever thought about registering AmyAnneOllinger.com?” Rebecca
“No, Rebecca, I have never thought about registering
AmyAnneOllinger.com. I am nine years old. Why in the world would I bother to
register a Web site with my name on it when my parents won’t even let me use
That’s what I thought about saying. What I said instead was, “No.”
“You should,” Rebecca told me. “You’ve got a unique name, but even so,
somebody could register it, and then what would you do? RebeccaZimmerman.com is
already gone! I’m ten years old, and already my future intellectual property is
being snapped up! Jay Z and Beyoncé trademarked their baby’s name less than a
month after she was born. You’d think my parents would have known enough to do
Rebecca’s parents were both lawyers, and she wanted to be one too when
she grew up. I couldn’t imagine a more boring job.
Instead I said, “Yeah.”
I was still itching to get to the library and check out my favorite
book. I opened my locker to stuff my backpack inside and gave my mailbox a
quick look. Nobody knows how it got started, but everybody at Shelbourne Elementary
has these cardboard boxes taped to the inside door of their lockers, just below
the little vents they put on there in case you get stuffed in your locker by a
bully. If you want to leave a note for somebody you just slip the piece of
paper in the slot and it falls right into the little cardboard box. It’s such a
tradition that Mr. Crutchfield, the custodian, just leaves the boxes in the
lockers from year to year.
As usual, my mailbox was empty. Which I’d expected. My one and only
friend doesn’t believe in writing notes. “Never leave a paper trail,” Rebecca
says. More advice from her lawyer parents.
“Did you hear about Morgan Freeman, the actor?” Rebecca asked.
“Somebody who wasn’t named Morgan Freeman registered his name at
morganfreeman.com, and he had to sue them to get it back!
Now that’s an interesting case—”
“I can’t imagine anything less interesting, Rebecca! I don’t
care anything about trademarks or registering domain names. I have to go check
out my favorite book before somebody else does!”
That’s what I wanted to tell her. Instead I held up a handful of books
like a shield and said, “I have to return these books to the library before
class!” and backed away before she could tell me more about the court case.
“I’ll see you in homeroom!” I called.
Normally I would already have my favorite book checked out and in my
backpack, but our librarian, Mrs. Jones, has a rule that you can only renew a
book two times in a row, and then it has to sit on the shelf for five
whole school days before you can check it out again. She says it’s to make
sure other people get a chance to read it, but I think she made that rule up
just to make me read other books, which I would have done anyway.
I dumped last night’s books in the book return and waved good morning
to Mrs. Jones on the way to the fiction shelves.
“Amy Anne,” Mrs. Jones called. “Honey, wait—”
“Just let me grab my book,” I called back. I turned into the H–N
shelves and hurried to where I knew my favorite book would be waiting for me.
Only it wasn’t there.
I looked again. It still wasn’t there. I looked behind the books, in
case it had gotten pushed back and was hidden behind the others like they
sometimes do, but no. It really wasn’t there. But my favorite book
was always on the shelf. Could somebody else really have checked it
I was about to go and ask Mrs. Jones when she turned down the row.
Mrs. Jones is a big white lady with short brown hair and rhinestone granny
glasses that hang around her neck on a chain when she isn’t reading. Today she
was wearing a red dress with white polka dots. Polka dots are her thing.
“Where’s my book?” I asked her.
“That’s what I was trying to tell you, honey,” Mrs. Jones said. “I
knew you’d come in for it first thing.”
“It’s been five days,” I told her. “I marked it down on my calendar. I
get to check it out again after five days. You said so. Did somebody—did
somebody else check it out?”
“No, Amy Anne. I had to take it off the shelf.”
I frowned. Take it off the shelf? What did she mean, take it off the
Mrs. Jones sighed and wrung her hands. She looked like she was about
to tell me my dogs had died. “Because some parents got together and said they
didn’t think it was appropriate for elementary school, and the school board
agreed with them.”
“Wasn’t appropriate? What does that mean?”
“It means I can’t check it out to you, honey, or to anybody else. Not
until I talk to the school board and get this nonsense overturned.
“It means, Amy Anne, that your favorite book was banned from the
Copyright © 2017
by Alan Grantz
Reader’s guide copyright © 2017 by Tor Books