Saturday, June 16, 2012

Picture Books for Librarians

Miss Dorothy and Her Bookmobile. Gloria M. Houston. Illustrated by Susan Condie Lamb. 2011. HarperCollins. 32 pages.

I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this picture book. I just LOVED it. And I think you may just love it too. This picture book is based on a true story, based on a librarian that the author loved and admired as a child. The heroine of this one is Miss Dorothy, a true librarian if ever there was.  

Here's how it begins:

When Dorothy was a young girl, she loved books, and she loved people, so she decided that she would become a librarian. She would be in charge of a fine brick library just like the one where she checked out books in the center of the town square in her hometown in Massachusetts. So she went to Radcliffe College, where she read almost all the books in the big school library. There she went to the library school, where she learned all the things a good librarian should know. 
I knew from the first sentence on that this would be my kind of book. Miss Dorothy went to library school, graduated, married, but she never became a librarian in a big brick library. No, the community she served, the community she loved, didn't have a nice, fine, big library building made of bricks. They didn't have a building for the library at all! But that didn't stop Miss Dorothy from her dreams. The important thing isn't the building itself, it's in the bringing books to people, connecting the right books with the right readers at the right time. It is in the sharing and loving of books. Miss Dorothy's library was--for many years--a bookmobile.
And sitting straight and tall, she drove the bookmobile over high hills and through narrow valleys, taking books into every school yard and to visit every farm, post office, grocery store, church yard, and parking lot. She stopped at the Tar Heel mica mill, and she parked at the courthouse steps at lunchtime whenever court was in session. If her readers could not come to the bookmobile, Miss Dorothy took books to them. When elderly Mrs. Maumey had read all her books, she hung her husband's red flannel drawers on the line, and Miss Dorothy climbed the hill with more books to share with her reading friend. 
The book chronicles her life in the community and the valuable service she provided to young and old alike. I LOVE the illustrations.

Read Miss Dorothy And Her Bookmobile

  • If you're interested in reading historical picture books based on true stories
  • If you're interested in books set in the Blue Ridge Mountains, or, books with a small town, small community feel
  • If you're a book lover looking for a book that captures the wonder of books, of reading, of librarians, of libraries, etc.
The Lonely Book. Kate Bernheimer. Illustrated by Chris Sheban. 2012. Random House. 40 pages.

The Lonely Book by Kate Bernheimer is another picture book that I discovered today. Like Miss Dorothy And Her Bookmobile, it celebrates the joy of reading, the wonder that can be found in books, in storybooks, the value of libraries and librarians. The Lonely Book is not about a librarian, however, it is about a book. It is even told from the book's perspective. (The book is happy, sad, lonely, etc.)

Here's how The Lonely Book begins:
Once there was a brand-new book that arrived at the library. It was green with a yellow ribbon inside to mark its pages. On its cover was a picture of a girl in the forest under a toadstool. The book found itself in the front of the library where the newest books were always placed. The library was busy every day with children looking for books about everything in the world, and the moss-green book about the girl in the forest was often chosen and taken home. Whenever the book was returned, it was placed back on the shelf where the newest books lived. There was a long list of children waiting for the book, and it hardly ever slept at the library. As is the custom in libraries, after a time the book was moved to the children's section, along with other well-loved books that were no longer new. But the book was still taken home often, and so it was still happy.
This picture book chronicles the life of this particular book, of this particular book in the library setting. Readers get to meet a special young reader who takes extra-special delight in this old and tattered book. She loves it only to lose it, it seems. For when she goes to check it out again, it's no longer on the shelf, no longer part of the library's collection. But where did the book go? Well, some might have guessed it went to the basement to wait for the next library book sale...where it might just find a new home...with a special little girl....who loves it ever so much....even if it is missing the last page.

I love the illustrations. I love the text. You can see some of the spreads of the book here. This book reminds me--in a good way--of The Velveteen Rabbit and the Toy Story films. In that it is a story about how being beloved is special and wonderful and in some ways better than being brand new and perfect. It, of course, reminded me of picture books that I have loved, loved, loved that much. How about you, what books have you LOVED?

I do think these two are probably more for adult readers than actual children. 

Read The Lonely Book
  • If you love books, if you love reading, if you love reading books about reading books and loving books.
  • If you love libraries
  • If you love books that show the wonder of storytelling, of words, of stories. This one is all about getting lost in the wonder of a wonderful, fantastic story and wanting to stay there, of wanting to experience the wonder again and again and again and again and again.

© 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Clio's Musings 10:02 PM  

Hi Becky - I just stopped by here from the library loot page. I've never heard of these two books, but they make me want to become a librarian! I really like your picture book reviews and can't wait to use them to start poking around the children's section of the library soon.

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I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

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I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

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