I am SO excited. I’m returning to my community library on Monday for the first time since I locked the doors on March 16, 2020, when New York went on “pause”. We’ve got two weeks of work to get our little home away from home back in shape (so many bins await unpacking), and then we reopen to our families on July 12th. It’s the day I’ve been waiting for and I am just so happy. So let’s celebrate some library love with two great books!
Stanley’s Library, by William Bee, (Aug. 2021, Peachtree Publishers), $14.99, ISBN: 9781682633137
It’s the Stanley book I’ve been waiting for! The hardest-working gerbil in town is back with Stanley’s Library. It’s going to be a busy day for Stanley, who arrives at work, loads up his bookmobile (they call it a “library van”) and head to the park for a day of truly public librarianship. He spots some friends and makes sure they get books he knows they would love, and then gets back to the library in order to set up for their big author event! The day is done, and it’s time for Stanley to go home, have supper, take his bath, and get to bed – with a good book. ‘Nite, Stanley!
The Stanley books are the best career books I can offer to my little kids (you have to love a multi-tasker!), and Stanley’s Library is so much fun. The endpapers show all the tools of the trade, including a date stamp, stamped library card, author event ticket, and bookmark. There are great details throughout the story, too, like the labeled shelves and the books on them: the Horror section includes books on Owls, Cats, and Snakes, all predators to gerbils; History stocks books like Famous Gerbils and More Famous Gerbils; Cheese gets its own very popular section, as we learn later on. Stanley exhibits fantastic readers advisory and collection development skills as he makes sure to give books to his friends that are in just in line with their interests, too; he gives Hattie, who’s working on her motorbike, a book on traveling twisty roads, and Little Woo gets a book on pirates, as he works with Shamus on his boat. The Stanley books are such fun and such easy reading; they’re a hit for your shelves.
Nia and the New Free Library, by Ian Lendler/Illustrated by Mark Pett, (June 2021, Chronicle Books), $18.99, ISBN: 9781452166865
Inspired by Stone Soup, this story hits on so many things: the idea that the library is always there, but no one uses it; that ideas people have about libraries aren’t always the reality, and my favorite, that libraries are built by communities, for communities. The Littletown Library has always been there. Until it’s not when a tornaldo carries it away. A young girl named Nia wants to rebuild the library, but – in a series of panels every librarian will identify with – hears a lot of talk as to why it’s not a priority: “What’s the point? No one uses libraries anymore”; “That costs money, and I can’t spare a dime”; and of course, “My son and I get everything we want online”. Taking matters into her own hands, Nia comes up with a very creative idea to get her community to come together and create a library – first, as a community, then, within a building. There are wonderful moments as Nia brings townspeople together to create their own stories or remember stories and parts of writing that inspired them; one gentleman recalls Maya Angelou’s And Still I Rise; detectives and boat captains recall the works that they loved from childhood. The library reopening is a stirring statement on what we do: “everyone crowded into the library to admire what they had accomplished”. Children paint, read books, and write their own, new ones; grandparents learn to use computers; there’s a knitting class taking place. In an author’s note, Ian Lendler remembers how his grandfather helped rally his own community to build the library he dreamed of a kid, saying, “That’s when I realized – a library is an expression of a town and all the poeple who live in it”.
An excellent book for storytime and class visits, and for just reminding people that we all have a stake in our libraries.