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THE NEW LIBEARIAN by Alison Donald


by Alison Donald ; illustrated by Alex Willmore

Age Range: 4 - 6

Pub Date: Jan. 9th, 2018
ISBN: 978-0-544-97365-7
Publisher: Clarion

It’s storytime, but where is the librarian?

A diverse group of children sets out to search for Ms. Merryweather. The first clue they find is prints—not footprints but paw prints. Then they discover that the librarian’s desk is sticky with spilled honey and covered in shredded and torn books. Behind the desk is “a new librarian”—a real bear, helpfully wearing a name tag that says “librarian.” The kids are excited and ask the bear to read them a scary story. Of course, he does. Opening a book about bears, he roars, growls, stomps, and roars some more. (The key verbs are printed in all caps for extra fizz.) When Ms. Merryweather appears (she was seeing to a volcano eruption in a different section), she doesn’t notice the bear. Her pick for storytime is “Goldilocks and the Three Bears,” but wait, something is missing—where’s the baby bear in the story? Guess! The pencil and digital media illustrations are simple; the kids have dots for eyes and mouths, and Ms. Merryweather, a white woman with fluffy red hair, wears stereotypical eyeglasses. The book’s premise obviously springs from the familiar mispronunciation of the word “librarian” by kids, but it doesn’t figure in the oddly disjointed story at all. The metafictive movement of the little bear in and out of the story lacks not only logic, but luster.

Despite the elements of a favorite folk tale, storytime, and a bear, this is not a honey of a tale—it’s bearly amusing. (Picture book. 4-6)