If you’re a book lover, you probably already know that few things are more delightful than visiting the library and coming home with more books… and even books about books. Hopefully you know some children who feel the same way, and they are sure to find a friend in Library Lion, written by Michelle Knudsen and illustrated by Kevin Hawkes.

IMG_6929.JPG

One day a lion strolls casually into the library and makes himself at home. At first the staff and patrons show concern, but as there are no rules against lions in the library, he is permitted to stay. When story time is over he lets out a roar of disapproval and, having broken the rule to keep quiet in the library, it looks as though he will have to leave. Miss Merriweather, the head librarian, is a stickler for the rules. But the children intervene on his behalf, and Lion is allowed to return so long as he observes the rule to keep quiet. He soon becomes indispensable, performing many helpful duties about the library (much to the annoyance of Mr. McBee at the circulation desk). At last one day, in a very good cause, the lion roars again… and knows that he must leave forever. Will the library ever be the same without him? Who could entreat him to return? And can the rules be disregarded under very special circumstances?

This sweet story is well-paced and smooth to read, with a thoroughly pleasant conclusion. The words themselves are as quiet as a librarian’s shoes, but the unfolding story gives readers two opportunities to ROAR! Who could resist? Even the tension building to the climax is gentle, so that the subtle changes in moods, relationships, and prejudices are easily perceived. In this story everyone has a place, and by the end each character readily embraces the good intentions and inherent value of the others.

In keeping with the nature of the story, Hawkes’ illustrations are likewise soft and a bit dreamy. His depictions of tidy stacks, the regal golden lion, and stereotypically prim library staff are most welcoming. The font is classic and printed in a soft brown, so the whole volume looks like the consummate picture book that it truly is.

This story is a sweet choice for sharing with your favorite lap-sized library pal. It is a little longer than is fashionable for newer children’s picture books; but every word builds the story, and the story is so engaging that it can help to stretch young attention spans too. For youngsters who already love to be read to it is a perfect choice.

With the beautiful page design at which Candlewick Press excels, Library Lion would also make a beautiful gift for any child or library. Donate a copy to a day care center or to the children next door. Book by book, everyone can help to support a culture of reading.

If you liked this book you might also enjoy: The Library, written by Sarah Stewart and illustrated by David Small

IMG_6930.JPG