By Rebecca Young - McClatchy Newspapers
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
In times when the bills give moms and dads forehead wrinkles and stomach knots, the public library remains a happy place.
It's where to find brand-new hardback books, DVDs, magazines and CDs full of music to chase those money worries away. It's all absolutely free – as long as you get them back by the due date.
It's never too early to begin teaching youngsters the joys of the library. Here are two new books to help.
"Our Library" by Eve Bunting unfortunately reflects what's going on in many communities. Government budgets are tight, and libraries often take the fall. Let's hope for real-life endings as happy as the one in this story.
In a cheery little animal village, Miss Goose stamps Raccoon's book and whispers that the library is about to close forever.
It's too old; it needs a new roof and paint.
Raccoon and friends check out books on roofing and "Library Painting for Beginners." Soon the library has a perfect roof and new buttercup-yellow paint with sky-blue trim.
Then Miss Goose presents another obstacle. There just isn't enough money to run the place. Back to the books: "How To Make Money Fast." Bake sales, art sales and candy sales raise a lot of money, but then they find out from Miss Goose that Goat wants to sell the property the library sits on.
Not surprisingly in this storybook land, there are books in the library and solutions to be found for that problem and all the ensuing ones, including "How to Speak Wisely & Well to Grumpy Old Beavers." (That's who owns the perfect spot the animals find for the library.)
Maggie Smith provides colorful illustrations with lots of detail. There's a fun one where the library is perched atop a long red wagon with a long line of villagers pulling it by rope up a grassy hill.
Bunting emphasizes that libraries are good places to go for information, and she and Smith depict reading as a pleasurable activity throughout.
Also, while youngsters might not be able to physically move libraries, they can begin getting involved in their communities.
"It's Library Day" by Janet Morgan Stoeke is set at a school, but Stoeke captures a universal excitement over a visit to the library and finding the just-right book.
The text is simple, with rhymes and repetition that will engage young children.
"Ernesto Flores loves scary stories.
"And he smiles when he hears that it's library day."
The pictures are wonderful, depicting a diverse group of cute kids. The first illustration of scary-story Ernesto shows him reading in a tent in his room by the light of a headlamp. He has a stuffed dog under his arm and a Frankenstein doll at his side.
The school librarian is curly-haired and energetic-looking, not bespectacled and mousy. Hooray.