Stead, Rebecca, and Wendy Mass. The Lost Library. Macmillan, 2023. 978-1-250-83881-0. 224 p. $18.99. Grades 4-7.
This well-narrated audiobook centers on Evan, an inquisitive boy who loves to read, as he approaches fifth-grade graduation. He lives in the sleepy town of Martinville, which lacks a library since the fire that burned down the old one twenty-five years ago. Two authors penned this delightful tale, ideal for any bibliophile to peruse. Multiple narrators flesh out the story: Mortimer the gold striped cat; AL, the assistant librarian who lives with the other library ghosts; and Evan. The town has just started a Little Library, and Evan nabbed some of the books from the box–all of them due the same day as the fire. As he gets deeper into one of his selections, How to Write a Mystery, checked out by M.C. Higgins, he tries to figure out who started the fire back in the 1980’s. He wonders if his father’s reticence and lack of communication has anything to do with the tragedy. With his best friend Rafe at his side, Evan follows the possible clues. In alternating chapters, AL reflects on her past, coming from the orphanage to serve as a fledgling librarian under the firm but kind head librarian, Ms. Skoggins, and conducting the book club for the local school children. The wise and attentive Mortimer, dear cat, provides the feline perspective on what it surveys: both the routine at History House where the ghosts reside and the movements of Evan as he puts together the puzzle pieces that point to his own dad. This book is a cozy homage to books, readers, libraries, and librarians.
THOUGHTS: A great read aloud. I hope this book can work its magic to entice listeners that libraries, books, and librarians are important. These two authors are some of the best, and this book will not disappoint. Pair it with the fine picture book about the beginnings of the Little Library or, if there are no Little Libraries in your neck of the woods, start a project to place them around town. If that isn’t possible, connect this book with a book drive for shelters. I just found out about a church food pantry that offers a book room for families. Or build a list of books where animals are key characters. At the very least, reading this book students will learn what a pseudonym is.
Fantasy (Magical Realism)