Book Talk: Killing Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan

Challenged Books: Killing Mr. Griffin
by Lois Duncan
DeShea Jones
LSIS 5525-OL2
Summer 2010
They only wanted to scare their English teacher, not kill him.
Even the best-laid plans sometimes go wrong.
Killing Mr. Griffin Info
Duncan, Lois. Killing Mr. Griffin. New
York: Bantum Doubleday Dell
Books for Young Readers, 1978.
 Genre: Thriller
 Interest Level:Young Adult (middle
and high school)
 A group of students decide to who decide to carry out a prank
on their English teacher to get back at him for being so tough.
 However, the students do not realize the teacher has a heart
problem and he dies after they have kidnapped him.
 One of the students is not mentally stable and ends up killing
someone else as well
 Susan, is the character of reason, but she still gets roped into the
Assessment of the Book
 Well written and entertaining to read
 Is suspenseful
 Duncan does a nice job of showing the different perspectives of
the characters and has great character development
Does not give much detail on the consequences for the student’s
Richard Peck in New York Times Book Review commented that
“The value of the book lies in the twisted logic of the teenagers
and how easily they can justify anything“ (Lois Duncan).
The ending of the book becomes too melodramatic (Lois Duncan)
Overall the book is a great read.
Challenge Info
 Killing Mr. Griffin has been challenged numerous times- read
and challenged since its publication in 1978
 From 1990-1999 Killing Mr. Griffin was number 64 on the
100 Most Frequently Challenged Book list and 25 on the
2000-2009 list.
 Has been challenged at school and public libraries
Reasons for Challenge
 There are two swear words in the book
 However, parents objected to the plot of the book, meaning
student kidnapping and killing their teacher (Harper).
 Some parents did not feel it is appropriate for middle school
students, only high school students (Harper)
Reasons for Inclusion in Collection
 On the ALA’s Best of the Best Books for Young Adults list in
1978 and 1994 (Harper)
 The book discusses peer pressure and why students should
not do something they know is wrong (Harper).
 Book also discusses acceptance, leadership,
responsibility, and revenge
 Book is well written and entertaining
What to do if Challenged
Review the selection policy of the library
Review the complaint, maybe discuss the situation with the
person who filed the complaint
Discuss the situation with my administrator
Check the policies of the profession (ALA website)
Gather resources on the book (reviews, info on awards, etc.)
Re-read the title
Keep the material in the collection until a decision is made
Create the argument for keeping the book in the collection
 Harper, Jennifer. Challenged Book Chosen for Library Book Club.
Summit Daily News, 23 Sept. 2005. Web. 11 June 2010.
 "Lois Duncan." Major Authors and Illustrators for Children
and Young Adults, 2nd ed., 8 vols. Gale Group, 2002.
Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington
Hills, Mich.: Thomson Gale. 2007.

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