Thank Goodness for Book Pushers

October 9, 2014 § 3 Comments

"A Library Book for Bear" by Bonny BeckerMy husband thought he was very clever when he surreptitiously posted to his Facebook page that The Book Mommy (a.k.a. me) had been overheard muttering to herself, “If I have to pick up another book off the floor, I swear I am getting rid of all of them!” Sigh. We all have our moments. Even the most book-obsessed among us.

Most of the time, I am exceedingly grateful for the sea of books that overtakes our house every day: when books from our overflowing shelves mix with stacks of incoming library books and set my children’s imaginations afloat.

Sea of Books

Case in point.

Yes, I’m firmly in the camp that it is impossible to have too many books (really good books, that is). You might say I’m a lot like the book-pushing Mouse in Bonny Becker’s A Library Book for Bear (Ages 3-6), the latest installment in her beloved Bear and Mouse series, which never fails to have my children roaring with laughter (and which allows me to don a British accent, as that’s how I’ve always imagined Mouse). On the off chance that you’ve been missing out on these delightful stories, you can catch up on past titles here.

In this new story, Mouse drags curmudgeonly Bear to the library. The latter is skeptical: for one, he’s a homebody; and two, he is quite certain that the seven books he already possesses are all he’ll ever need (“three about kings and queens, three about honeybees, and one about pickles”). Can you imagine a greater tragedy than believing you’ve already read everything worthwhile? Thank goodness for book pushers.

"A Library Book for Bear" by Bonny Becker

Mouse opens his arms wide as he takes in all the literary possibilities. “Hmmph! Terribly extravagant!” scoffs the brooding Bear.

And yet, the magic about libraries—for people and animals alike—is that you never feel like you’re being pushed into anything. The journey down a library’s aisles feels like a personal crusade. Lined up in rows, the colorful spines await discovery. What my children will decide to bring home from a visit to the library is predictably unpredictable. On the way to the library, they might tell me they are going to look for books about polar bears and pirates, but after two minutes of browsing, they insist that they are actually even more interested in fairies and submarines.

Ultimately, it’s when Bear eavesdrops on a librarian presiding over story time for a crowd of animals, that he experiences the real thrill of the library: of finding something you didn’t even know you were looking for. In this case, it’s a book about a brave bear, who discovers a treasure chest of diamond-encrusted pickles (obviously). Suddenly, it’s Bear, not Mouse, who doesn’t want to leave the library…at least, not until that story is over and he has checked out the book to take home.

As in all the Bear and Mouse books, Kady MacDonald Denton’s expressive watercolors infuse the story with silly, exaggerated drama, as the two friends argue over which books they like and what proper library decorum should look like (“QUIET VOICES IN THE LIBRARY,” Bear screams). But it’s the escalating banter, leading to a satisfying payoff, that makes for such fun—and which every child who enjoys a good visit to the library will want to hear again and again.

"A Library Book for Bear" by Bonny Becker

Now that’s one satisfied library patron, on his way home.

Other Favorite Library Stories:
Library Lion, by Michelle Knudsen & Kevin Hawkes (Ages 3-7) and several others mentioned at the end of this post here
Red Knit Cap Girl and the Reading Tree, by Naoko Stoop (Ages 3-6; another sequel in a wonderful picture book series featuring one of my favorite young heroines, first encountered here)
The Lonely Book, by Kate Bernheimer (Ages 4-8)
Miss Moore Thought Otherwise: How Anne Carroll Moore Created Libraries for Children, by Jan Pinborough & Debby Atwell (Ages 5-8)
Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library, by Barb Rosenstock (Ages 6-10)
That Book Woman, by Heather Henson & David Small (Ages 6-10)

Review copy provided by Candlewick publishing.

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