The Not So Quiet Library (Zachariah OHora)

Hello, friends! Our book today is The Not So Quiet Library by Zachariah OHora, a delightfully offbeat tale about the joys of libraries and books.

In the home of brothers Theodore (a little boy) and Oskar (a bear), Saturdays are the best day of the week. After all, Dad starts the day by bringing them to the bakery for fresh donuts, and then it’s off to the library! Theodore and Oskar head straight for the kid’s section (Dad heads straight for the “Nap” section), and happily settle in for some quality storytime. That is until a five-headed monster named Seymour/Chuck/Winston/Pat/Bob interrupts by making a racket. And doing what, you ask? Why, EATING BOOKS! Unfortunately, they find the taste rather displeasing, even after loading the texts with condiments. When Theodore explains that books are for reading and not eating, the cranky monster decides that they will eat the brothers instead! It’s going to take some quick thinking and some leftover donuts to get out of this one! Or perhaps a storytime may do the trick instead…

Silly, quirky fun. OHora has a knack for creating stories that are filled with simple, original plots and the type of oddball humor that kids love. This tale is no different, somehow managing to capture the joy of spending a quiet day at the library in a story about monster(s) who pour sprinkles and mustard on books to improve their taste. And not to worry, SeChWiPaBo (my own abbreviation) does come to realize their bad manners(they blame low blood sugar), and become ardent library helpers and new friends. OHora’s signature block-color and heavy-lined illustrations are a treat as always, the length is fine, and JJ had plenty of giggles throughout. A treat, and Baby Bookworm approved!

Lost In The Library: A Story Of Patience & Fortitude (Josh Funk)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Lost In The Library: A Story Of Patience & Fortitude, written by Josh Funk and illustrated by Stevie Lewis, a love letter to the New York Public Library through the eyes of two of its most endearing fixtures.

When Fortitude (one of the two iconic stone lions that greets visitors of the landmark library) notices that his partner Patience is missing, he sets off in search of the absent cat. Fortitude wanders through some of the library’s most notable features, such as Astor Hall and the Rose Reading Room, but cannot find his fellow lion anywhere. He worries about his companion, reflecting on their long history together and the wonderful stories that shy Patience tells him to pass the time. Fortitude asks some of the other pieces of art and sculpture if they have seen him, and is finally able to steer him the right way – the Children’s Center. There, Fortitude finds Patience surrounded by books, and realizes that Patience has been learning new stories to share with his brother. Returning to their plinths, Fortitude asks if, when no one’s around, they can again sneak in to read, together.

This is a very niche book, but a gorgeous and heartfelt one. Primarily, it’s about a single building, though a much beloved one. The story of friendship and love of reading is sweet, yet takes a backseat to the setting and characters, themselves part of the building. Even as a guide to the building itself, it has some limitation – as Funk notes in the afterward, the children’s department is set to be moved to another building in 2020. However, for the generations of children and adults (myself among them) who have visited this breathtaking place, the feeling the story evokes is pitch perfect. The magic of the NYPL Main Branch is undeniable, as are the authors and books slyly included in the narrative and art, and this story works best as a reflection of that: the magic, wonder, and imagination that great stories and great places can inspire. Warm, engaging illustrations breathe life into stone walls and statues, the length is fine, and JJ loved it. A sweet, personal ode to national treasure, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved.

Dreamers (Yuyi Morales)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Dreamers by Yuyi Morales, a breathtakingly beautiful love letter to a Dreamer.

“I dreamed of you, then you appeared. Together we became Amor – Love – Amor.” So begins a love letter from a mother to her baby, and the story of their journey together. Bundling their only belongings on her back, the mother takes her infant across a bridge to a new land. Leaving all she knows behind and unable to go back, she places her faith in the promise their new home holds, of education and opportunity. The language spoken is unlike her own, but she tries, until the day when she stumbles upon another place of education and promise: a public library. She marvels that the library opens their arms, sharing books and language and trust and safety. As her son grows, she and he both use the books and resources to learn, to adapt, and to stretch their dreams ever higher. “We are stories. We are two languages. […] We are dreamers, soñadores of the world.”

Stunning. A deeply personal tale told in an ecstatically beautiful way, Morales channels her immigration experience into a factual story with a fantastical look. Every word of the quietly powerful text has intent, each element of the mixed media art a nod to the author’s past, present, and future (Morales details the story and items that inspired the book and its visuals in the backmatter). It’s not just one love letter, but many – from mother to son, from patron to library, from reader to book, from immigrant to both home countries – all folded into a story that inspires, relates, and deeply moves. The length was great, JJ and I adored it, and I can’t recommend it enough. Baby Bookworm approved.

The Magician’s Hat (Malcolm Mitchell)

Hello, friends! Our book today is The Magician’s Hat, written by Malcolm Mitchell and illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff, a magical ode to the power of reading.

Family Fun Day has come to the library, and families of all shapes and sizes have gathered for the stories, activities, and of course, the books. For the first time, there’s also a magician, a tall and lanky man with a very mysterious hat. After performing a few mystifying tricks, the magician tells a story: when he himself was a young boy, he came to Family Fun Day at the library as well. It was there that he picked up his first book on magic, and learned that reading books has a magical power all its own. Then, he encourages his young audience to think about what they want to be when they grow up, then reach into his hat. Incredibly, the children who do so – even the skeptic – find just the right book to encourage their aspirations and help them envision their goals. The magician invites everyone to look for magic in books, because reading can help them make their dreams come true.

Very sweet. With an emphasis on the importance of reading as a self-driven hobby, the story focuses on how books can help us achieve dreams, both in the fantastical sense as well as the realistic. There’s not too much rising or falling action, but the message is strong enough that it holds its own without a more involved plot. Lee-Vriethoff’s illustrations are as charming as always, with spreads featuring the lanky-limbed magician and the children’s dreams and aspirations being gorgeous standouts. The length is fine, and JJ enjoyed it. A wonderful story about the power of reading, and we liked it a lot. Baby Bookworm approved!

A Big Surprise For Little Card (Charise Mericle Harper)

Hello, friends! Today’s book is A Big Surprise For Little Card, written by Charise Mericle Harper and illustrated by Anna Raff, a wonderfully fun story about a little card with a big destiny.

Little Card lives in an apartment building with many other cards, like price tags, prize tickets, and office folders. The only ones who do not know their job yet are Little Card and his friend, Long Card. That is, until the day their job letters arrive, and Little Card finds out that he is to be a birthday card! He eagerly attends birthday card school, learning all that he can about birthdays and surprises. But when he returns home, he finds that there was a mix-up: his friend Long Card was meant to be the birthday card. As for Little Card, he has a different destiny in store – one where he just may be able to put his skills at bringing people joy to good use.

This was so cute! Spoiler alert: Little Card actually becomes a little girl’s library card, and they spend the whole day celebrating “Happy Library Day!” and learning about all the fun that the library has to offer. It was a great story, and did a great job of showing little ones how wonderful the library can be. The illustrations are very cute, joyful and colorful and full of energy. The length was fine, and JJ and I both loved it. If you’re looking for a fun story to get children excited about getting a library card, this one is a fantastic choice. Baby Bookworm approved!