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Libraries, throughout time, all connected… and protected by Ninja Librarians!

ninja_librariansNinja Librarians, by Jen Swann Downey. SOURCEBOOKS Jabberwocky (2014). $16.99, ISBN 9781402287701

Recommended for ages 8-12

What if you found out that all libraries were connected, throughout time, and an order called the Lybrarians used libraries are portals in time, to protect those who would speak freely? That’s what Dorrie and her brother, the Star Wars-obsessed Marcus, find out when they fall through a passage in their neighborhood library in Passaic and discover themselves in Petrarch’s Library. The big problem? The Lybrarians aren’t sure whether or not they can trust Dorrie and Marcus – they could be members of the evil Foundation. Dorrie desperately wants to be invited to join the Lybrarians, but first has to figure out how to flush out the traitor that’s in their midst.

This book appears to be the first in a new series, and anything that promotes librarians as awesome freedom fighters and protectors of independent speech and thought, I’m all for. But forewarned is forearmed, kids: they aren’t really ninja librarians. There’s a lot of exposition taking place here; a lot of groundwork being laid to give readers a strong understanding of character and situational development, with a neat little subplot involving Socrates.

Dorrie is a great character – she’s earnest, she’s dedicated to the cause, and she’s exasperated by her brother, Marcus, who’s pretty much there for comic relief and Star Wars references. I hope to see Marcus fleshed out more in future storylines, because I’d love to see him let loose in a library of the future.

I’m thinking of ordering this book and programming a Summer Reading “find the hidden portal” scavenger hunt around it: alas, my entrance to Petrarch’s library will be made of cardboard and lead to, at best, a snack room with some goodies for my weary keyhands. If this book gets kids looking at libraries in different ways, gets them to see libraries as the keepers of history and protectors of free speech and ideas (thank you, Ms. Downey, for emphasizing that!), then we’re on the right track.

Ninja Librarians is a fun summer read. The book just hit shelves less than two weeks ago, so get it on your summer reading suggestion lists and start planning your programs!


I'm a mom, a children's librarian, bibliophile, and obsessive knitter. I'm a pop culture junkie and a proud nerd, and favorite reads usually fall into Sci-Fi/Fantasy. I review comics and graphic novels at WhatchaReading ( I'm also the co-founder of On Wednesdays We Wear Capes (, where I discuss pop culture and geek fandom from a female point of view.

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