The Boy Who Was Raised By Librarians


I received one of those friendly little alerts from Amazon.com this morning about this book so I headed over to Amazon to check it out, pre-pub. At first, I thought it was illustrated by the same guy who did one of my all-time favorite children’s books, Double Trouble in Walla Walla written by Andrew Clements & illustrated by Sal Murdocca. Alas, it’s not, but the cover art still rocks. Here’s the Amazon blurb…

This humorous tale of a curious young boy and his single-minded quest for knowledge is a heartfelt and affectionate tribute to librarians everywhere.

Every day after school Melvin goes to the library. Everything has its place in the library and Melvin likes it that way. And his favorite people–Marge, Betty, and Leola-are always in their places, behind the reference desk.

When something interests Melvin, his librarian friends help him find lots and lots of books on the subject. When he collects creepy bugs in a jar, they help him identify, classify, and catalog the insects. When he is cast as the Enormous Eggplant in the school play, Betty reads aloud from Organic Gardening to help him find his motivation.

As the years pass, Melvin can always find the answers to his questions-and a lot of fun-in the library. Then one day he goes off to college to learn new things and read new book. Will he leave the library and his friends behind forever?

Readers will enjoy Brad Sneed’s delightful illustrations that colorfully capture the fun-loving spirit of Carla Morris’s story about the contagious enthusiasm of learning.

Lucky librarians know a kid like this; luckier ones know several kids like this. There really isn’t anything more satisfying than seeing a kid who has used the library regularly –I mean really used its resources — grow up to become something special. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing several kids like that and when I’m doubting my choice of profession, thinking about these kids always brings me back around.

There’s Karl Slominski, who was part of my very first young adult book discussion group back in 1996 and who, at age 13 created a full-sized wall mural in my old library and called it “The Stuff that Dreams Are Made Of.” Karl is now a successful graphic artist whose work can be see at Slomotion Art. Last I heard, he was working on storyboards for a new Edward Norton movie.

Then there’s Kaylen Lott, who was part of my young adult volunteer group back in the late 1990’s and who is now doing graduate work in immunology at Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse. I remember Kaylen telling everyone she was going to save the world, and now she’s on the way to doing just that.

What I love so much about books like The Boy Who Was Raised By Librarians is that they do such a fabulous job of explaining what we do and how much of an effect we have on children. Now the real challenge is getting some of those kids whose lives we change in the positions of power that control the money. That’s why I love George Maziarz so much. Every time I see him, he tells the story of how he grew up right next door to the Tonawanda Public Library and how he spent so much of his childhood inside that building. And today, he is one of the strongest supporters of libraries in Albany. We need more like him.

This post is also published on my library blog – Sources of Inspiration.

The Web She Weaves

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After having immersed myself in YA fiction for the CYBIL Awards, I decided to ease back into grown-up reading with this sweet little anthology of mystery and suspense stories written by women. Edited by Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini, heavy-hitters in the crime fic world, these stories run the gamut from classic writers like Mary Roberts Rinehart, Dorothy Sayers, Agatha Christie, and Katherine Mansfield to more contemporary ladies such as Patricia Highsmith, Ruth Rendell, Joyce Carol Oates, and P.D. James.

Anthologies are usually mixed bags, with the stories running from excellent to really, really awful, but this collection doesn’t suffer from that type of poor selection. Each and every story is a gem, a masterpiece of psychological suspense, beginning with the masterful The Lodger by Marie Belloc Lowndes. It’s been many years since I first read this story, and it hasn’t lost its tension one little bit. Lowndes tells the story of the Buntings, an ordinary couple who find themselves with a weathy, mysterious lodger who comes to them during the height of the Ripper murders in London’s East End in the 1880s. Mrs. Bunting knows there’s something not quite right with this gentleman who conducts mysterious experiments in his room, and who regularly burns his clothing. Lowndes does a fine job of revealing only a few details at a time, but just enough to build tangible tension in the household. The climax of the story, as the lodger nearly comes face to face with the one man who would recognize him, is almost a relief for the reader.

Muller and Pronzini have selected the very best of the best stories from all the authors represented. Entries such as The Snail-Watcher by Patricia Highsmith and McGowney’s Miracle by Margaret Millar totally made my skin crawl, while stories such as Cattails by Marcia Muller and The Possibility of Evil by Shirley Jackson skillfully expose the human capacity for evil. If you’re looking for a book you can read leisurely, try this. It will surely keep you up at night!