Dear Librarian | Lydia M. Sigwarth
Summary: Many children don’t gain the experience of knowing a ‘library home’ – having enjoyed several myself as I grew up, this story is a great callback to comfortable surroundings. The main character is unnamed in her own narrative, but it becomes clear that she represents the author when young. Her issues and distractions are relatable because of how simply the tale is told: mom and dad move their family in order to find work and a new place to live. In the meantime, they stay with family members in different environments. Having grown up to admire her librarian friend, she also becomes a librarian and looks to make the child’s library experience an enviable one of inclusion and acceptance.
Recommendation: Based on a real person and situation, Sigwarth provides an end page and photos giving more detail about her family and past. She specifically describes homelessness as simply not having a home for one’s own, and the moving between family members’ houses shares that experience with us without making it a scary situation. Creating her own space at the library must have served as a stress-relief for young Lydia, a sense of control in all that she could not influence. I especially loved the amorphic floral additions around the library as young Lydia discovered the wonders of the space and staff. It was like seeing the flavor of something wonderful on her tongue, hearing themed music in the background fit for a brave adventurer.
Lola at the Library | Anna McQuinn
Summary: Lola takes us on a tour from morning to bedtime, her natural hair bound in knots, her joy ever present. There’s no plot beyond her appreciation of the library and time spent with mom. It’s adorable and familiar and makes me want to settle down with a cup of tea to reread it again. The illustrations by Rosalind Beardshaw are particularly helpful in making a safe and friendly mood along all the pages. I loved that mom also had books to check out by the end, offering a great example as an active adult reader for her youngster.
Recommendation: McQuinn’s work isn’t meant to outline all the things a library does, just showcase what a little girl would pay attention to on her weekly visit. Thus, the buzzing machine, the special kids’ space, and the storytime fun are just as important as the later snack. I particularly enjoyed the textures and patterns used by Beardshaw to make the items in her paintings look smooth or fluffy or shiny. In one instance, there is a rhyme worked out of the words on a single page. Considering there are no other rhymes throughout the book, I assume this was accidental – it left a feeling of comfort and I found myself hoping for more poems.
The Library | Sarah Stewart
Summary: From her birth to her ripe old age, Elizabeth Brown is a reader. She reads constantly, voraciously, endlessly, and (at times) distractedly. There’s no plot exactly, but the adjustments she makes when finding herself in a new place. Her book collection demands space and she arranges a free local library with it as a donation. Based on a real person, I would have hoped to read more about them from real life as an end page or insert.
Recommendation: I fear I may have modeled myself on Elizabeth Brown too closely – stacks of books, comfy chair, adequate lighting, teacup nearby, cozy cat, lap blanket… yep, that’s me (when I’m not in the middle of an Xbox game). A bibliovore like the character, I do have other interests and hobbies beyond books, but they are a wholesome and forever kind of entertainment so I study up and expand upon my literary knowledge with enthusiasm. Beautifully illustrated by David Small, her life’s progression moves smoothly between the decades, her skirts growing longer, her hairstyle upswept. Even the details of her hands as she signs a form include clues to her advancing age. The cats are sweet accompaniment across the pages as well.