Kid's Stuff -- Books About Libraries
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"How My Library Grew - By Dinah"
Written by Martha Alexander
Illustrated by Martha Alexander
(Philomel, 1983)

A young girl notices some construction going on next to her house and is fascinated to learn they are building a new library there. It takes a long time, and over the course of the year, she comes up with several questions, such as what makes a rainbow? that are finally answered when the library opens. In theory this is great stuff, but I found the actual narrative to be a bit clunky and slow-moving, with little dramatic flow. But if you really, really love the concept of libraries (which I do!) this might grab your imagination. We were a little nonplussed by it in our household.
(C)


"Anna's Book"
Written by Barbara Baker
Illustrated by Catherine O'Neill
(Dutton, 2004)
A little girl has a new favorite book, and wants her mom to read it... again and again and again. Her mom's kind of busy, so she finally disengages, after which Anna takes over and reads the book herself... again and again and again... (Yay, happy ending!) It's a nice, simple story... At first we weren't really wowed by it, but it has since become a favorite... the kind of thing that gets requested again and again, as a matter of fact. Plus, anything that's pro-book propaganda is fine by me. Hate the sequel, though. (See below.) (B)


"What Happened To Marion's Books?"
Written by Brook Berg
Illustrated by Nathan Alberg
(Upstart Books, 2003)

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"What Marion Taught Willis"
Written by Brook Berg
Illustrated by Nathan Alberg
(Upstart Books, 2005)

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"When Marion Copied: Learning About Plagiarism"
Written by Brook Berg
Illustrated by Nathan Alberg
(Upstart Books, 2006)

(-)


"Red Light, Green Light, Mama And Me"
Written by Cari Best
Illustrated by Niki Daly
(Orchard Books, 1995)

A sweet story about a young girl named Lizzie who goes to work with her mother, meeting mom's co-workers and seeing her daily routine. The fact that Mom works as the children's librarian in a big downtown library makes this an even more special story for budding young bookworms. Nice art and a charming first-person narrative, with a light tone that reflects the cheerfulness and exuberance of a happy, well-loved child. Works as a mommy book, a work book, and as pro-book propaganda. What more could you want? (B+)


"D.W.'s Library Card"
Written by Marc Brown
Illustrated by Marc Brown
(Little, Brown & Co, 2001)

Adapted from the "Arthur" PBS-TV series. When Arthur won't check out a "baby book" for his little sister, D.W., she decides to get a library card of her own, which means first she has to learn to write her own full name... That's all very well and good, but then dramatic tension is created after two bully kids tell her that the librarians will take away D.W.'s card if she damages the book... She is then too scared to read the book she waited for so long and worked so hard to get... This plot device seemed unfortunate: why freak little kids out about the library if you're trying to get them engaged? Of course, everything gets sorted out by the book's end, but I'm sure some more naive or literal-minded little readers might be confused by the false negative message, and become almost as paranoid about the library as D.W. was... I just kept reading my way around that part of the story, chagrined that it was there in the first place. (B-)


"Book, Book, Book!"
Written by Deborah Bruss
Illustrated by Tiphanie Beeke
(Simon & Schuster, 1999)

Ah, puns! This is one of my favorite barnyard books, about a farm full of animals who get bored when the city kids go back to school, so they go to town seeking some fun of their own. They wind up at the local library, where the librarians are befuddled by their moo-ed and whinnied requests, at least until the chicken goes in and asks for a "Book, Book, Book!" The plot is goofy and the delivery is delightful... And wait'll you hear what the frog has to say!
(B+)


"Our Librarian Won't Tell Us Anything!"
Written by Toni Buzzeo
Illustrated by Sachiko Yoshikawa
(Upstart Books, 2006)

(-)


"When Will I Read?"
Written by Miriam Cohen
Illustrated by Lillian Hoban
(Greenwillow, 1977)

Jim is a little boy in the first grade (or so) who has grown anxious about when he will be able to read -- some kids in his class already can, and a few even tease him a little because he can't. His teacher calmly assures him that he will be able to read, someday soon. Naturally, she's proven right, and all ends well. As a general rule, I'm not that into anxiety books, although this one does have a nice, gentle tone, and I like the cartoonish artwork... Worth checking out. (B-)


"Maisy Goes To The Library"
Written by Lucy Cousins
Illustrated by Lucy Cousins
(Candlewick, 2005)

Generally speaking, one of the things that makes the Maisy books both so successful and so vacuous, is her complete lack of personality and the lack of meaningful drama in the text. This book -- a fine piece of pro-library propaganda -- is unusual in that it has a sustained narrative, in which Maisy visits her local library, looking for a book on fish, and winds up staying for storytime before going out to play. It's a nice book. As always, Lucy Cousins' bold, simple artwork makes this story instantly appealing, and anything that steers kids towards libraries and books is alright by me. My one quibble is that it describes a bunch of things you can do at "the library," including using computers, making xerox copies and looking at fish in an aquarium. It would have nice if instead Cousins had said "at Maisy's library you can..." do all these things, since obviously not all libraries are equally well-funded or geared towards non-print experiences. Other than that, though, this is quite a nice book. Yay.
(B+)


"The Librarian's Night Before Christmas"
Written by David Davis
Illustrated by Jim Harris
(Pelican, 2007)

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"The Library Dragon"
Written by Carmen Agra Deedy
Illustrated by Michael P. White
(Peachtree Press, 1994)

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"Stella Louella's Runaway Book"
Written by Lisa Campbell Ernst
Illustrated by Lisa Campbell Ernst
(Aladdin, 2001)

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"I.Q. Goes To The Library"
Written by Mary Ann Fraser
Illustrated by Mary Ann Fraser
(Walker Books, 2003)

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"Quiet! There's A Canary In The Library"
Written by Don Freeman
Illustrated by Don Freeman
(Viking, 1969)

When Cary goes to the library, she really gets into it, thinking of nothing else but the book she's reading. One day, when she picks up a book about zoo animals, she daydreams about what she would do if she were the librarian, how she would invite all the animals to a special bird-and-beast day at the library. She greets each animal as it comes in, and things go great until a flock of mice scamper in an upset the elephant... Then she has to restore order, and is helped by a little canary. A fun, fanciful story and a welcome celebration of the halls of knowledge. Another nice one from the author of Corduroy. (B+)


"Book!"
Written by Kristine O'Connell George
Illustrated by Maggie Smith
(Clarion Books, 2001)

Cute story about a toddler/infant who gets a new book as a present and carries it around all day long, and even takes it to bed for naptime. Bright, colorful, cartoonish artwork, and a sweet, pro-book propaganda message. Recommended, although the text is very basic and the shelf life might not be that long, once your kid gets reading. (B)


"Sam's First Library Card"
Written by Gail Herman
Illustrated by Tamara Petrosino
(Grossett & Dunlap, 2003)

(-)


"The Babies Are Coming!"
Written by Amy Hest
Illustrated by Chloe Cheese
(Crown Publishing, 1997)

A dozen city-kid toddlers are roused from their houses, bundled up and taken down to the local library for a nighttime story reading (and sleepover?) The text doesn't rhyme, but it has a strong rhythmic feel, and if read at a breathless clip, is kind of exciting and fun. I don't understand the part about taking sleepy little babies to the library at night, but i guess it takes all kinds of people to make the world go round... Anyway, this is a fun book, with a relatively subtle pro-library propaganda message and colorful, detail-rich artwork with lots of little things to point out and talk about. My wife hated it when I first brought it home, but I though it was fun, and so did our kid... So, two-to-one odds it'll work for you, too. (B)


"Shelf Elf"
Written by Jackie Mims Hopkins
Illustrated by Rebecca Thornburgh
(Highsmith, 2004)

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"The Shelf Elf Helps Out"
Written by Jackie Mims Hopkins
Illustrated by Rebecca Thornburgh
(Upstart Books, 2006)

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"Goldie Socks And The Three Librarians"
Written by Jackie Mims Hopkins
Illustrated by John Manders
(Highsmith, 2007)

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"I Took My Frog To The Library"
Written by Eric A. Kimmel
Illustrated by Blanche Sims
(Puffin, 1992)

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"Library Mouse"
Written by Daniel Kirk
Illustrated by Daniel Kirk
(Abrahms, 2007)

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"Library Lion"
Written by Michelle Knudsen
Illustrated by Kevin Hawkes
(Candlewick, 2006)

A great book about a big, gentle lion that wanders into a local library and becomes a favorite friend of the head librarian and all the kids who come to storytime. He runs afoul of the persnicketty circulation manager, Mr. McBee, who doesn't think that lions belong in libraries -- especially not his library. But as long as he doesn't break any rules, like running or roaring, then Miss Merriweather (who's a stickler for rules) doesn't have any problem with it. One day, when Miss Merriweather has an accident, the lion has to roar to get her some help, but he thinks he'll be in trouble for making noise. Turns out it's alright, though -- one of the lessons of the book is that there are times it's okay to break the rules. Eventually, even mean old Mr. McBee comes around, and becomes the lion's friend. Great story, easily understood and full of wry humor -- the artwork is delightful and perfectly supports the text... This one is a real winner, and also has the durable, timeless feel that will make it a classic. Check it out! (A++)


"Lulu Loves The Library"
Written by Anna McQuinn
Illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw
(Frances Lincoln Books, 2009)

(-)


"The Boy Who Was Raised By Librarians"
Written by Carla Morris
Illustrated by Brad Sneed
(Peachtree, 2007)

A somewhat stiff narrative about a boy who goes to the library throughout his life -- we hear about his interests in kindergarten, first grade, his science projects and book reports, all assisted by a trio of solicitous, helpful female librarians. The gender barrier is broken in the book's surprise ending, when the boy grows up to be a librarian himself. The story is okay, but the artwork had an overly realistic look that gives it a slightly grotesque tone... Okay, I guess, but it didn't resonate with us. (B-)


"Curious George Visits The Library"
Written by Margaret & H. A. Rey
Illustrated by Martha Weston
(Houghton Mifflin, 2003)

(-)


"Wild About Books"
Written by Judy Sierra
Illustrated by Marc Brown
(Clarion, 2005)

A fast-paced, clever celebration of books and words... Consciously modelled after Dr. Seuss's classics, this sports a strong rhyming text and a bouncy exuberance. The plot is thus: a librarian parks her bookmobile at the local zoo, sparking a love of books in the various animals. Not only do they devour the books (sometimes literally!), the critters also get creative, writing novels, memoirs and haiku.. even literary criticism! The main attraction is the wild wordplay, which comes complete with lots of inside jokes for grown-ups to enjoy (funny book titles and clever choices for the various animals to read... ) Wonderful artwork, as well, from Marc Brown (of Arthur fame...) whose richly retailed, lively style looks detailed and dense yet playful appealing, and perfectly compliments the text. Maybe not suited to the littlest readers, but -- like the Seuss books it emulates -- it has a rhythm and liveiness that lends itself to reading aloud and can help introduce readers of any age the pleasure of the printed word. Recommended!
(A)


"Beverly Billingsly Borrows A Book"
Written by Alexander Stadler
Illustrated by Alexander Stadler
(Silver Whistle, 2002)

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"The Library"
Written by Sarah Stewart
Illustrated by David Small
(Farrar Straus Giroux, 1995)

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"The Librarian From The Black Lagoon"
Written by Mike Thaler
Illustrated by Jared Lee
(Schoalstic, 1997)

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"Library Lil"
Written by Suzanne Williams
Illustrated by Stephen Kellogg
(Puffin, 1997)

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"Delilah D. At The Library"
Written by Jeanne Willis
Illustrated by Rosie Reeve
(Clarion, 2007)

A bratty little girl, otherwise known as Princess Delilah, is the kind of kid who just can't be told anything she doesn't want to know... Instead of listening when she's told to be quiet and well-behaved in the library, Delilah comes up with an elaborate reason why she should be exempt from the rules. Turns out she's from a faraway country where all the rules are different, a land where librarians loudly give away cupcakes and encourage children to climb on the furniture. Even though she can't show anyone her country on the map, Delilah sticks to her guns, and comes home more convinced than ever that she is ruler of the universe. This book has some nice aspects -- I'm sure the princess syndrome will ring a bell with many parents, and the artwork is quite nice (it reminds me of Emma Chichester Clark's colorful, economical style...) Still, Delilah not a very pleasant character, and you want to spend the whole time either correcting her or avoiding her, not an auspicious quality for a storybook character. Although there are some clever details, the tone of the story isn't very appealing. I'm sure it gets mixed reviews from the pro-library faction as well. Fans of the "Charlie and Lola" series might like this brand of humor better than we did. (C+)


"L Is For Library"
Written by Nicole Wong
Illustrated by Nicole Wong
(Upstart Books, 2006)

(-)




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