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Book Reviews for Library Lovers

by the CL/R SIG
 | Apr 14, 2014

Lives Change bubble Lives Change @ Your Library
You Belong @ Your Library
Communities Matter @ Your Library
Create Your Own Story @ Your Library
Worlds Connect @ Your Library
Something for Everyone @ Your Library
Come Together @ Your Library

These are themes from recent years’ celebrations of National Library Week and School Library Month in schools and libraries across the country. The American Library Association explains the week’s significance, “Libraries and librarians have a powerful and positive impact on the lives of Americans on a daily basis. Their stories are key to communicating the value of libraries. National Library Week is the perfect opportunity to encourage your community to tell the story of how the library has changed their life.”

To join in, you can simply use this template and ask students to take a “selfie” holding the completed speech bubble. Have them describe how libraries are important to them and post these in your classrooms during National Library Week.

We hope that these reviews offer a way for teachers and educators to learn about new titles that will enhance their classrooms and provide a wide variety of choices for young readers. For extra web resources to help you celebrate libraries and librarians, you can look at ReadWriteThink, the National Library Week page by ALA, and the School Library Month page by ALA.


Grades K-2

Capucilli, Alyssa Satin. (2014).  Biscuit loves the library. Illus. by Pat Schories. New York: HarperCollins.

Biscuit Loves the LibraryFrom the My First I Can Read series, the beloved Biscuit is back. Modeled after the author’s own dog, this playful yellow puppy is enjoying Read to Your Pet Day at the library. He plays with the story-time puppets, he listens to records, and he visits with all his friends for a most enjoyable day. Before the day is over the librarian helps Biscuit discover the activity that he delights in the most. This beginning reader is a great way to promote the wonders and offerings of the library. Young readers will also enjoy “Happy Easter, Biscuit!” Visit the author’s website for more on the World of Biscuit and her other wonderful stories or download this maze from the publisher’s website. Biscuit even has his own Facebook page!

-Karen Hildebrand, Ohio Library and Reading Consultant


Greene, Rhonda Gowler. (2013). No pirates allowed! Said Library Lou.  Illus. by Brian Ajhar. Sleeping Bear Press.

No Pirates Allowed Said Library LouBig Pirate Pete and his parrot burst into the library and demand to know where the treasure is hidden! Though the other library patrons cower at this outburst, brave Library Lou faces the burly pirate and in no uncertain terms lets him know that she will be happy to help him AFTER he takes a shower and comes back with clean clothes (ugh! Smelly underwear!) Pirate Pete returns and Lou begins to show him that reading is more than “X marks the spot” and the real treasure in the library is on the shelves of books containing stories of all kinds. Told in rhymed text and combining pirates, treasure, and good books, this is a must for National Library Week. Teachers will find an extensive Common Core aligned teacher’s guide, book trailer, and a reader’s theater script at the author’s website.

-Karen Hildebrand, Ohio Library and Reading Consultant


Johnson, Angela. (2013).  Lottie Paris and the best place.  Illus. by Scott M. Fischer. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.

Lottie Paris and the Best PlaceFrom multiple-award winning author Angela Johnson, her return character Lottie Paris has discovered that the library is “the best place in the world.” Her father takes her to the library, where Lottie reads all the books about space, even though sometimes it is a little difficult to follow all the library’s rules, like being quiet. Carl has also discovered that the library is the “best place in the world” as his sister regularly brings him there to read about dinosaurs. He, too, has a little trouble with the rules like not blowing bubbles and keeping food away from the books. When Lottie and Carl meet in the children’s reading room, they become instant friends. Mixed-media illustrations that sometimes go right off the page bring vibrancy to the story and the friendship.

-Karen Hildebrand, Ohio Library and Reading Consultant


King, M.G. (2013). Librarian on the roof; a true story.  Illus. by Stephen Gilpin. AV2 by Weigl.

Librarian on the RoofThe roof of the oldest public library in Texas was where librarian RoseAleta Laurell spent a week in October (2010) in an effort to get sponsors for an unusual fundraiser. She was trying to raise money to spend on improvements in the children’s room and to purchase computers and Internet access for this rural community in Lockhart, Texas. Facing storms, the brave librarian was able to raise almost twice the amount of money, over $39,000, she had targeted as her original goal as the community banded together for the project. Cartoon-style illustrations present the larger than life action of this true tale at the Dr. Eugene Clark Library. Use this 4-minute video from NBC, CBS, and Fox affiliates in Lockhart, Texas, to see the TV report of this remarkable librarian. Read more about the backstory and find other printables and resources at the author’s website (reprinted from the original Albert Whitman, 2010, publication).

-Karen Hildebrand, Ohio Library and Reading Consultant


Morrison, Toni. (2014). Please, Louise. Illus. by Shadra Strickland. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.

Please, LouiseTogether with her son Slade, Pulitzer-Prize winning author Toni Morrison was inspired to write this story as she recalled her experiences working in a library as a young girl. Donned in a bright yellow raincoat and umbrella, a young girl embarks on a slightly scary journey to the library. When she arrives, she discovers that she truly has found “shelter from the storm.” Written in rhymed couplets and illustrated with delicate watercolor and gouache illustrations, Louise finds that the library shelves open up a myriad of doors, stories, and ideas that she curiously delves into. As the day ends and she is stretched out on the floor of the library, she prepares for the walk home. Sunshine and a few seemingly scary scenarios from the earlier dark and gloomy morning walk are now far away as she finds her fears were unfounded. Told through the reflective voice of the author, this tribute to reading and literacy beautifully unfolds. Illustrator Shadra Strickland has created a video to share the launch of the book and also to announce the contest she sponsored for people to write in and share their favorite library moment—something teachers might like to try!

-Karen Hildebrand, Ohio Library and Reading Consultant


Parish, Herman. (2013).  Amelia Bedelia’s first library card. New York: Greenwillow Books.

Amelia Bedelia First Library CardHerman Parish, nephew of the original author Peggy Parish, has continued the much loved Amelia Bedelia books, this time taking young readers on a trip to the library. Parish has presented Amelia as a young girl who is with her elementary class as they tour the library and learn about the book stacks, though not haystacks or pancake stacks. Amelia checks out a book on weather and later, woe is me, forgets and leaves the book outside when a thunderstorm pops up. The book is ruined. Amelia and her mother take the soggy remains and present them to the librarian who accepts their apology and their offer to pay for the book in addition to the apology cupcake Amelia has made. Students and teachers might enjoy an interview with Herman Parish at Reading Rockets. For more about Amelia Bedelia and classroom resources for these books, visit the publisher’s website.

-Karen Hildebrand, Ohio Library and Reading Consultant


Pinborough, Jan. (2013). Miss Moore thought otherwise; how Anne Carroll Moore created libraries for children. Illus by Debby Atwell. Houghton Mifflin Books for Children.  

Miss Moore Thought OtherwiseGrowing up in the 1870s in Limerick, Maine, Anne Carroll Moore was the youngest child of seven older brothers. It was a time when children were not allowed to visit libraries or check out books, and girls were not encouraged to become readers. This strong-willed young woman decided to go to New York where she got a job as a librarian at the New York Public Library. In 1911, she created the Central Children’s Room in this new building designed especially for children. Window seats, bright light, artwork, and the pleasure of checking out much-loved books created the atmosphere to encourage children to enjoy the pleasure of reading. From these early years through her retirement, Miss Moore traveled the United States advocating for the creation of children’s privileges and designated areas in libraries just for children. For more information on the life and efforts of this library pioneer, visit the book’s own website. A YouTube video is a great introduction to the book and Miss Moore, using archival photographs of the era. In addition, The Classroom Bookshelf Blog offers many teaching ideas for using the book, especially as National Library Week and School Library Month are upon us. 

-Karen Hildebrand, Ohio Library and Reading Consultant


Grades 3-5

Grabenstein, Chris. (2013).  Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s library. New York: Random House.

Escape From Mr. Lemoncello's LibraryAlexandriaville has a new public library designed by the rather eccentric game designer Luigi Lemoncello. Class clown Kyle Keeley has entered his essay into the contest to spend an all night lock-in on the evening of the opening day of the library. Kyle and the other 11 winners discover that another challenge awaits them during their overnight stay. “Find your way out of the library using only what’s in the library.” Each kid has some skills to bring to the challenge and the fun begins as they race through the library finding clues and answers for their escape. References to well-known book titles, puns, clues from the Dewey Decimal system, reality show setting similarities, and video game technology make this book a laugh-filled yet intriguing library adventure.

-Karen Hildebrand, Ohio Library and Reading Consultant


Kerrin, Jessica Scott. (2013). The spotted dog last seen. Groundwood Books/House of Anansi Press.

The Spotted Dog Last SeenDerek Knowles-Collier is working on his school-assigned community service project. Derek and his friends have volunteered to work in their local cemetery, and they are actually learning a great deal from the gravestones and epitaphs. On rainy days they meet in the library and hear about the cemetery from older members of the community. Looking at some mystery books one rainy library day, Derek and his friends discover secret codes written in the margins of several books. The code leads them to a hidden time capsule. A side story involves recurring nightmares that Derek has about his best friend, Dennis, who was hit by a car and killed when rushing after a ball kicked by Derek. Working in the cemetery is scary for Derek, but also allows him to confront his fears. The author weaves between humor and sorrow that middle school readers can understand. A secret code at the end invites a challenge for readers! At the publisher’s website, teachers will find a live action video that can be used as in introduction to the book. In addition, the publisher has created a teacher guide to the novel.

-Karen Hildebrand, Ohio Library and Reading Consultant


Grades 6-8

Bodden, Valerie. (2013). Navigating the library. Illus. by Elwood H. Smith. Mankato, MN: Creative Education.

Navigating the LibraryThe research process is the focus of this book with special emphasis on information literacy. Using a cartoon-like format, the author guides readers in selecting and narrowing a research topic and then finding and evaluating resources to dig into the topic. Pathways to books and online databases are suggested. This narrative guide takes a step-by-step approach to active research. Found in the back of the book are extensive bibliographies and online resources for further study.

-Karen Hildebrand, Ohio Library and Reading Consultant


Boucher, Francoize. (2014). The book that will make you love books. New York: Walker Books for Young Readers/Bloomsbury.

The book that will make you love booksWith cartoon-style illustrations and lots of tongue-in-cheek humor, the author discusses why books and reading are important. Reading is not only useful, but it is also fun. From looking smart to going places you’ve never been, this laugh out-loud book offers all kinds of rationales for why books are so fun. And perhaps the best rationale: you never lose the remote control! This offers great daily read aloud fun during National Library Week or any literacy celebration.

-Karen Hildebrand, Ohio Library and Reading Consultant

Downey, Jen Swann. (2014). The ninja librarians: the accidental keyhand. Naperville, IL: Sourcebook, Jabberwocky.

The Ninja LibrariansWho doesn't admire a warrior librarian especially during National Library Week? Middle School readers will enjoy this action-packed adventure as Dorrie and her brother Marcus fall through a hole in the back of a closet in their local library and plummet into a time portal and into Petrarch's Library. This is the training ground for apprentices to become ninja librarians, or Lybrarians. Their task is to save famous writers from all over the world and in many historical settings from dangers that lurk that could prevent their world renown tales from being read and admired by people throughout time. Socrates, Cyrano de Bergerac, Casanova and other library-loving writers and librarians through the ages make appearances. Fantasy, history and adventure come together for a very exciting tale that emphasizes the importance of free speech. Read an interview with this debut author at the Reading Nook Reviews blog or read more about the author at her website. Teachers might like to introduce the book with this book trailer or put a link on your classroom webpage. 

-Karen Hildebrand, Ohio Library and Reading Consultant


Grades 9-12

Bennett, Alan. (2012). The library book. London: Profile Books, Ltd.

The Library BookThis collection of fiction and nonfiction short stories, memoirs, and excerpts from books comes to readers from the United Kingdom. The author has compiled the thoughts of 23 authors and their reflections on libraries and how libraries have been important to them. Some of these essays will be perfect for teachers who are looking for short text pieces in time to celebrate National Library Week or School Library Month. Reading how these authors discovered their love of libraries and love of books might prove to be inspirational for some teens. One fact that readers are sure to notice is how libraries have changed in recent years now offering so much to so many.

-Karen Hildebrand, Ohio Library and Reading Consultant


Schwab, Victoria. (2013). The archived.  New York: Hyperion.

The ArchivedThe supernatural, fantasy fiction, and the library. This combination of terms sets the scene for the first book in the Archived series. The Archive is a cross between a mausoleum and a library where dead bodies are kept on shelves and called Histories. Occasionally, one will wake up and try to find its way to the outside world.
The Keepers are in the Archive to prevent this very thing from happening. Each body has a story to tell and it is only the Librarians who can interpret the pictures on the bodies. MacKenzie Bishop was introduced to the labyrinthine Archive by her father several years earlier. He is gone now and it is Mac’s responsibility to take up the job as a Keeper, ensuring the private sleep of the Histories is not disturbed. But something is happening and someone is purposefully altering Histories and erasing important parts of the past. In constant danger and uncertainty, the future of the Archive and the loss of what Histories maintain is threatened.

-Karen Hildebrand, Ohio Library and Reading Consultant


Schwab, Victoria. (2014). The unbound; an archived novel.  New York: Hyperion.

The Unbound an archived novelThis is the second book in the Archived series. Narrowly escaping with her life in Book #1, Keeper MacKenzie Bishop is starting her junior year in high school at Hyde. Her psychic gifts and training as a Keeper have helped her stay alive, but things are changing and she has become a suspect as people begin to vanish. With the possibility of losing everything, including her life, Mac feels she must find out who is responsible for all that is missing and perhaps gone forever. She feels certain that something in the Archive has gone terribly wrong as the violent Histories continue to escape. This fantasy thriller will appeal to sci-fi/fantasy readers who love psychological other worlds.

-Karen Hildebrand, Ohio Library and Reading Consultant


Other great books that pay tribute to libraries and librarians from earlier years and around the world:

“Biblioburro; a true tale from Colombia” -Jeanette Winter
“Book Fiesta” -Pat Mora
“Dewey, the Library Cat”-Vicki Myron
“Down Cut Shin Creek; the packhorse librarians of Kentucky”-Kathi Appelt
“Goin’ Someplace Special” -at McKissack
“Hands Around the Library”-Susan Roth and Karen Abouraya
“The Librarian of Basra” -Jeanette Winter
“The Library Card” -Jerry Spinelli
“The Library Dragon;” and “The Return of the Library Dragon”-Carmen Agra Deedy
“My Librarian is a Camel” -Margriet Ruurs
“Please Bury Me in the Library” -J. Patrick Lewis
“Richard Wright and the Library Card” - William Miller
“Tomas and the library lady” -Pat Mora
"Wild About Books” -Judy Sierra

Additional Resources:

The Reading Rockets website offers an excellent list of books about Libraries and Librarians.

Check out: The Declaration for the Right to School Libraries.

Digital Literacy celebrates National Library Week.

Lesson plan ideas for National Library Week from Education World.

More ideas from The Busy Librarian blog.

For Pinterest fans, check out these library activities.

These reviews are submitted by members of the International Reading Association's Children's Literature and Reading Special Interest Group (CL/R SIG) and are published weekly on Reading Today Online. 

The CL/R SIG is accepting submissions to the fall 2014 edition of their journal, The Dragon Lode, through April 15, 2014. There is an open theme, and they invite manuscripts that explore contemporary issues and questions, genre study, literary theory, and research related to children's literature and reading. Manuscripts should be no longer than 20 double-spaced, typed pages. Use APA (6th edition) formatting. Author's name, affiliation, mailing address, telephone and fax numbers, and e-mail address should be on a separate cover page. Photos and illustrations should be sent as a separate jpeg file. Any reference to the author that would enable the reviewer to know the author's identity should not appear in the manuscript. Submit all manuscripts to: Dr. Ruth McKoy Lowery, Co-editor.

CL/R SIG will host a special session entitled Children's Literature: The Perfect Teachable Moment on Saturday, May 10 at 3:00 p.m. at the International Reading Association 59th Annual Conference in New Orleans. The session celebrates award-winning children's and young adult books and authors. Author Nancy Bo Flood is the keynote session speaker. Her work encompasses more than a dozen books. Her recent historical fiction "Warriors in the Crossfire" is set in Saipan during WWII, and was selected on the 2011 Notable Books for a Global Society (NBGS) list. The NBGS list represents selections and authors from all genres K-12, with a focus on understanding of and appreciation for the world's full range of diverse cultures, ethnic, and racial groups. The session will also include presentation of the 2014 Notable Books for a Global Society (NBGS) list by members of the selection committee. Visit http://www.iraconference.org to learn more about IRA 2014 or to register. 


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