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DO YOU KNOW DEWEY? by Brian P. Cleary


Exploring the Dewey Decimal System

by Brian P. Cleary & illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff

Age Range: 6 - 9

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-7613-6676-8
Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

The Great Library Code is deciphered simplistically and, more problematically, in labored rhyme.

After opening with an introduction to young Melvil Dewey, who “would grow up to make a system / to organize those stacks of books and classify and list ’em,” Cleary conducts a tour from 000 to the 900s. With occasional oversimplifications—“Peek in the 800s, and you’ll have all kinds of sightings / of works in many languages and many types of writings”—he highlights general subjects and a few scansion-fitting specific topics (700s: “Motown, Mozart, Ellington, the Beatles, and the blues, / along with most activities that you might ever choose”). He breaks down call-number structure in a more detailed (prose) closing section and also notes that most (public and school) libraries use different classification schemes for fiction, picture books and biographies. He also at least drops in a mention of online catalogs, if not librarians, as helpful resources. Though the loosely shelved books visible in Lew-Vriethoff’s cartoon illustrations are all fat, generic tomes unrealistically free of titles, jackets and even (despite suggestive streaks of lighter color) spine labels, at least her library scenes bustle with happy patrons of diverse ages and skin tones.

Not likely to be much help in an actual library, but the concept that there’s a system may be reassuring. (basic chart) (Informational picture book. 6-9)