Monday, May 2, 2011

Celebrating Children's Book Week

Happy Children's Book Week! In honor of these days dedicated to the celebration of children's literature, we have decided to make it a week of book talk (bear with us :) )- just some thoughts about a few of the amazing books, authors, and illustrators of the genre.

A particularly appropriate selection for kicking off a week about children's literature is 2006's Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes. The tale is not only an impressive union of narrative and picture, it is a storybook tribute to libraries.

Miss Merriweather, head librarian and decorum-keeper, first meets Lion when he saunters past his stone counterparts and into the stacks. Scowling circulation assistant Mr. McBee seems intent on having the enormous cat ejected, but his boss declares that as long as he breaks no rules, he is welcome. The beast does misbehave though, roaring loud displeasure when storytime ends. At Miss Merriweather's reprimand, the contrite-looking lion promises to reform. In fact, he becomes something of a fixture in the building, dusting with his tail, licking envelopes, and serving as a stepstool for small patrons. Everyone appreciates him–except Mr. McBee. When Lion lets out another tremendous RAAAHHHRRR!, the man bursts into Miss Merriweather's office to snitch–and there he finds her in distress, having fallen from a stool and broken her arm. Lion, à la Lassie, has saved the day, but he is so chagrined by his own rule-breaking behavior that he doesn't return to the library. People miss him. Even Mr. McBee. A feel-good ending and a reminder that Sometimes, there is a good reason to break the rules bring the story to its most-satisfactory conclusion. - School Library Journal Review

Ms. Knudsen's story is original, humorous and poignant, but in my opinion, it is the illustration of Mr. Hawkes that makes this tale particularly special. His muted palette reflects the quiet, timeless atmosphere of the library, yet the expressive nature of the drawings captures the often lively bustle of the space.

Library Lion is one of those ideal picture books, perfect for read- alouds and a beautiful addition to any child's personal collection.

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