“Once there was a library that opened only at night.” Thus begins Kazuno Kohara’s endearing story of one devoted librarian who gets the job done—and gets it done right.

A young girl, braided hair flying as she zooms around with stacks of books, runs the library with the help of three assistant owls. It’s a busy library, but it’s quiet, as libraries are expected to be.

When a band of squirrels playing loud music shows up (they’re researching the next best song for their upcoming show), she shows them to the activity room. When a wolf cries copious tears over a sad story, she sits down with him, and they read together. After all, she and her assistants know the story has a happy ending. When a tortoise refuses to leave when it’s time to close the library (he has 500 pages of his book left), she makes him a library card—to his utter delight. As the sun rises, she reads a “bedtime” story to three tired owls.

And who wouldn’t want such a librarian? She knows how to match her readers with the perfect book; she tells stories to comfort her patrons; and she knows the wisdom of having a room in her library for raucous noise and fun. Best of all, she loves to read and encourages others to do so.

Kohara’s expertly wrought linocut prints are bright and appealing, dominated by simple shapes, heavy outlines and primarily blue, black and vivid orange. Children will delight over the library’s patrons, an array of creatures from farm animals to woodland creatures. This is an affectionate and joyous tale that will resonate with young readers—and book lovers of all ages.

 

Julie Danielson features authors and illustrators at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, a children’s literature blog.

This article was originally published in the July 2014 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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