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.