Tag Archives: library

Day 105 – The Library

This evening we read another selection in honor of National Library Week, with a little bit of poetry (for National Poetry Month!) tossed in for good measure. “The Library” by Sarah Stewart and David Small is a breezy and poetic gem of a book produced by the same pair that brought us “The Gardener“. It tells the story of incurable bibliophile (or biblio-addict) Elizabeth Brown, how she eventually finds a way to share her obsession with her town, and how doing so makes everyone better off – including Elizabeth. The tale is told in flowing, rhyming verse that is a joy to read aloud, and Mr. Small’s illustrations – as they did in “The Gardner” – add undeniable heart and humor to what is already a great story.51SPXi4SiZL

“The Library” is another book which I think is fair to judge by its cover. Looking at the picture of a woman with her face buried in a book while pulling a wagon full of books down the street, I knew we were going to love this one; as a family, we have too much in common with Ms. Brown not to enjoy it! There is something so compelling and comforting to us about the thought of simply spending our lives reading as Ms. Brown does. There was also more than one scene in the book where I thought the story could have been based on our oldest daughter…and those illustrations! Whether you are celebrating libraries, looking for some playful rhyming verse, or just have a desire for a fun read aloud experience, you won’t go wrong with “The Library”.

Day 103 – Quiet! There’s a Canary in the Library

Keeping with our Library Week theme, today we read “Quiet! There’s a Canary in the Library” by Don Freeman, a book about a little girl whose imagination gets the better of her one Saturday on a weekly visit to the library. Published in 1969, the book tells a simple but endearing story, and it is filled with playful illustrations that add to the vintage storybook feel.canary

If you had the opportunity to run the library, would you make any changes? It seems to me like a pretty amazing place already, but little Cary knows one thing she would change if she were the librarian: she would set aside one day every week just for animals and birds to come in and browse. While sitting and reading a book about the zoo one afternoon, she begins to daydream about all the animals that would come visit on her special day. There would be a bear pawing through books about his kin, an elephant (who will need more than four chairs and his own table to be comfortable), a proud peacock, a quiet turtle reading under a table, an entire family of monkeys, and many more besides…including, of course, a canary. While this collection of animals may seem like a recipe for mayhem, in Cary’s library, they would all be quiet as mice…at least until…MICE!

This delightful book has been a favorite of our youngest ever since we purchased it; we have had our paperback copy for only a short time, and it is already looking worn-out & well-loved (because every time we leave the house she asks to bring it along in the car). I think there is something particularly compelling for little listeners about the idea of being able to invite all your animal friends to the library, and I loved how Cary imagines herself in the role of librarian. Don Freeman’s drawings are especially inviting. There is a certain kitschy charm to Mr. Freeman’s illustrations (the style of drawing and the color combinations) that is at once dated and comforting. Taken together, it’s an adorable combination that we are very happy to have as part of our collection.

Day 102 – The Library Lion

In honor of National Library Week, this evening we read a book that made us all want to ROAR: The Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen and Kevin Hawkes. It is an uplifting and charming story about an unlikely friendship and the importance of playing by the rules, which reminds us that sometimes there may still be a very good reason for breaking them.library lion

Rules are important to Ms. Merriwether, the librarian. She has some simple but important rules for anyone wishing to enjoy the library – be quiet and don’t run. There are no rules barring lions, however, and that is why Ms. Merriweather is unperturbed when a lion wanders into the library one day, despite the protestations of a vexed Mr. McBee.  The lion nearly loses his library privileges when he ROARs in protest at the end of storytime, but Ms. Merriweather gives him a second chance, and she is not disappointed. Once he has learned to control his temper, the lion – who originally seemed so out of place – is strangely at home quietly strolling the aisles on his padded paws and serving as a comfy backrest at storytime. He is also a tremendous help to Ms. Merriweather.

Then one afternoon Ms. Merriweather falls from a stool while reaching for a high shelf and breaks her arm. She asks the lion to fetch Mr. McBee, but the assistant librarian, who never wanted the friendly feline in the library in the first place, chooses to ignore the lion’s silent entreaties. Desperate to get help for his fallen friend, the lion uses the only other tactic he can think of – he ROARS! right in Mr. McBee’s face. The ploy works to perfection – Mr. McBee races down the hall to Ms. Merriweather’s office to report on this blatant disregard for rules and finds her lying on the floor waiting for help. Meanwhile, the lion trudges slowly out the door of the building. He has broken the rules, and he knows what that means.

For days and days thereafter, library visitors look up from their books expecting to see the lion arrive at any moment, but he is nowhere to be found. Ms. Merriweather in particular is saddened by the lion’s absence, speaking to Mr. McBee in a voice that is quiet “even for the library.” Seeking to cheer up his friend, and perhaps a bit regretful himself, Mr. McBee ventures out alone on a rainy evening and finds the lion, soaking wet, staring in the glass doors of the library. “There’s a new rule in the library,” Mr. McBee tells the lion, “No roaring allowed, unless you have a very good reason – say, if you’re trying to help a friend who’s been hurt, for example.” The next day, the lion returns to a joyful welcome. “No running!” calls Mr. McBee as Ms. Merriweather rushes down the hall to greet her long-lost friend – but she doesn’t listen, because “sometimes there (is) a good reason to break the rules, even in the library.”

“Library Lion” is a heartwarming and engaging book, and it has been a favorite of our youngest ever since we checked it out. It made us literally ROAR out loud when reading the text – and then made our hearts ROAR to see the picture of Ms. Merriweather and the lion embracing on the final page.It is also beautifully and playfully illustrated. I particularly enjoyed the variety of expressions so well captured on the faces of the people (and the lion!) in Mr. Hawkes’ drawings – expressions of curiosity, contrition, concern, melancholy and joy which added valuable color to the story.  I appreciated the way in which “Library Lion” so effectively conveys the allure of the library – we don’t know where the lion came from, but why wouldn’t he walk into a place as great as the library? We certainly love to spend time there!