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Friday, September 25, 2015

Stories for Library Lovers

Photo courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net

If you have read many of my previous posts, it should come as no surprise that I LOVE libraries. Libraries are among my very favorite places to spend time in! I visit our local library at least once a week. I love the (relative) quiet, the smell of the books, the access to computers, printers, and other technology, the bright colors of the children's section (actually, our whole library is brightly colored!), and, of course, the rows and rows of books in every room.

While wandering around the children's section recently, I discovered a group of engaging books about libraries. Some of the books are silly and fictional. Others share true stories of real libraries, in this country and around the world. Do you love libraries, too?  If so, this post is for you. (And if not, the following books just might spark your interest!)

Picture books:

Wild About Books,
written by Judy Sierra
and illustrated by Marc Brown, 2004

Librarian Molly McGrew accidentally drives the bookmobile to the zoo. Before long, all of the animals are reading -- and even writing their own books!

This is a cute story, told in rhyme. I especially liked the haiku poems that the bugs in the insect zoo write, along with the stinging reviews from the scorpion! The fun illustrations complement the humorous story well.


The Librarian of Basra:
A True Story from Iraq,
written and illustrated by Jeanette Winter, 2005

Alia Muhammad Baker is a librarian in Basra, Iraq. In 2003, war came to Basra. Alia asked the governor for permission to move the books (which were "more precious to her than mountains of gold") from the library to a safer place. He refused, but Alia moved them anyway. Just a few days later, a fire burned the library to the ground....

I don't know much about libraries in other countries and hadn't heard of this story before reading the book. I found it interesting. Winter presents the facts in a way that is easy to understand. She also shares Alia's perspective, her thoughts and hopes for the books she loves. Winter's colorful illustrations help to tell Alia's story and depict the war without being too frightening for children. 


A True Story from Columbia,
written and illustrated by Jeanette Winter, 2010

This book is based on the true story of Luis Soriana, an avid reader who lives in northern Colombia. One day he decided to share his large collection of books with the people in isolated villages high up in the hills where books are scarce. He built special crates for the books that could be carried by his two burros, creating his very own Biblioburro -- or Burro Library.

Through her vibrant pictures and poetic narrative, Winter provides readers with a small slice of life in Colombia. I found the book a delight to read!


Miss Moore Thought Otherwise:
How Anne Carroll Moore Created Libraries for Children,
written by Jan Pinborough
and illustrated by Debby Atwell, 2013

When Annie Carroll Moore was young, "many people thought a girl should stay indoors and do quiet things such as sewing and embroidery. But Annie thought otherwise." This is the tale of a woman who "thought otherwise" about many different things and wasn't afraid to fight for what she felt was right. Soon after libraries began hiring women as librarians, Miss Moore went to school to become one. Unlike many others in her field, she believed that libraries should be for children, too, not just for adults. She helped to create children's sections in all 36 branches of the New York Public Library and later went on to design (and then run) the Central Children's Room at Fifth Avenue and Forty-Second Street. Her work influenced other libraries around the country and around the world to create inviting spaces for children.

I was unaware of the history of children's libraries before reading this book. I learned a lot! I like how Pinborough brings this history to life with intriguing details and alluring text. Atwell's folk-art style pictures pair nicely with the story. This was my favorite of the picture books in this post.


"L" is for Library,
written by Sonya Terry
and illustrated by Nicole Wong, 2006

From "Dewey Decimal System" to "nonfiction" to "thesaurus", this book offers a different library-related word for each letter of the alphabet.

While I'm not a fan of the rhymes of the text (some seem a bit forced to me), I found that Wong's detailed, charming illustrations outweigh those parts, making this a book worth sharing with you.


Librarian on the Roof!:
A True Story,
written by M. G. King
and illustrated by Stephen Gilpin, 2010

This book is based on the true story of RoseAleta Laurell, a dedicated librarian who camped out on the roof of the Dr. Eugene Clark Library (the oldest library in Texas) for a week, in order to raise awareness and funds for its children's section. Town officials did not approve of her stunt, and Laurell endured some wet, scary weather up on the roof, but in just seven days, the town raised almost $40,000 for the library -- twice Laurell's original goal!

King's entertaining writing combined with Gilpin's amusing cartoon-like illustrations make this a fun book for children and adults alike.


Middle grade fiction:

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library,
written by Chris Grabenstein, 2013

Imagine a modern day Willy Wonka creating a library instead of a chocolate factory. It would be the best library ever, right? It would be Mr. Lemoncello's library. For the past 12 years, Alexandria, Ohio has been without a public library. Now the man behind Mr. Lemoncello's Imagination Factory (a company with the best board games, puzzles, and video games) is opening a library in the town. He picks twelve 12-year-olds (who write the best essays on "Why I'm Excited About the New Public Library") for a special library lock-in. There are games and prizes, plus the biggest competition of them all -- whoever can figure out how to escape from the library without using the front door or the fire exits (using only what's in the library to find their way out) will win the best prize of all, becoming a paid spokesperson for the Imagination Factory.

I loved this book and count it as one of my favorite middle grade novels of all time! It hooked me from the very beginning and kept me interested to the very end. It made me laugh out loud in several spots. I had fun figuring out the various clues to the games and I appreciated all the references to other books that appear throughout the story. While reading it, I knew that my son Ben would love it, too. I gave it to him when I finished, and, sure enough, he couldn't put it down. Between the two of us, we give this book four big thumbs up!


Have you read any of the books mentioned above? If so, what did you think of them? What are your favorite books about libraries?

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