Feb 18, 2012

The Library

The Library by Sarah Stewart
Illustrated by David Small
Published by Farrar Straus Giroux

     The Library is the story of Elizabeth Brown, a girl born to read. When she was little, she didn't like to play with dolls or play outside. All she wanted to do was read. She read everywhere, all the time.  When she left for college, she brought with her a steamer trunk loaded with books, and in class she sat daydreaming about entering a readers' olympiad.
She manufactured library cards
And checked out books to friends,
Then shocked them with her midnight raids
To collect the books again.
Elizabeth preferred books to going out on dates, or dancing with her friends. She moved to a little town and lived a life devoted to her love of books.  Eventually, she accumulated so many books that "she had to face the awful fact, she could not have one more," so she ended up donating all her books to create The Elizabeth Brown Free Library.
     The Library is a beautiful book in every sense of the word.  The character portrayed by Stewart is funny and lovable, and the gorgeous illustrations by Small add to Elizabeth's loveliness. I love the way Small framed the images and added ink designs to accompany the rhyming verses.  I especially liked those pages where the illustrations cannot be contained by the frames anymore, and books end up spilling all over the page.
     There is an underlying quirkiness about Elizabeth and readers get a glimpse of it with hilarious lines (with illustrations to match) like:
She made a list of groceries
And tucked it in her book,
Then lost the list among the fruits
And left with nothing to cook.
She read about Greek goddesses
While vacuuming the floor.
Attending only to her book,
She'd walk into a door.
      I dare you not to fall in love with Elizabeth Brown. This is one of my favorite picture books. Enjoy!

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