Come for the literary sights and sounds, stay for Pack’s miraculously fine-tuned imagination.

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Chronicles: The Library of Illumination

Pack’s (Evangeline’s Ghost, 2013, etc.) compilation includes the first five stories in a whimsical series about a library where books come to life.

Seventeen-year-old Joanna Charette is addicted to books. She loves reading them, repairing them—even smelling them. As an orphan, she lives alone in a ramshackle apartment and works at Book Services as a delivery girl. Her dreams of owning a beautiful library and handling treasured manuscripts seem impossible, until one day she’s summoned to an address she can’t quite find. Believing herself to be at the right spot, Joanna walks toward an old library called the Library of Illumination. As if destined to do so, she gains entrance and meets the curator, Malcolm Trees. Joanna soon learns that when this library’s enchanted books open, characters suddenly appear. Eventually—after some exploits involving Tarzan and Dr. John Watson—Malcolm is convinced that he’s found his replacement and retires. Joanna moves into the library, hires a teen assistant named Jackson and proceeds to have her own series of increasingly epic adventures. Will she grow into the levelheaded librarian she knows herself to be, or will this fantasy job ruin her real life? Pack cheerfully runs an inventive marathon with this anything-goes premise. The biggest questions readers might ask are addressed in each of the five stories presented here, starting with “Doubloons,” in which Jackson accidentally lets Treasure Island pirates loose. When the book shuts and some gold coins remain behind, the resulting narrative fallout charms and thrills in equal measures. Similarly, stories such as “The Orb” and “Casanova” flaunt Pack’s literary brilliance and her ability to grow the world and characters episodically; watching Jackson woo Joanna will entice audiences just as much as the adventures. Pack also offers a great reminder: As Jackson knocks fairy tales, Joanna replies that they “have a long tradition of entertaining children while teaching them all things are possible—if they’re resourceful.” That goes for adults, too.

Come for the literary sights and sounds, stay for Pack’s miraculously fine-tuned imagination.

Pub Date: April 29, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-9835723-7-4

Page Count: 298

Publisher: Artiqua Press

Review Posted Online: April 24, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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ABIYOYO RETURNS

The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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A DOG NAMED SAM

A book that will make young dog-owners smile in recognition and confirm dogless readers' worst suspicions about the mayhem caused by pets, even winsome ones. Sam, who bears passing resemblance to an affable golden retriever, is praised for fetching the family newspaper, and goes on to fetch every other newspaper on the block. In the next story, only the children love Sam's swimming; he is yelled at by lifeguards and fishermen alike when he splashes through every watering hole he can find. Finally, there is woe to the entire family when Sam is bored and lonely for one long night. Boland has an essential message, captured in both both story and illustrations of this Easy-to-Read: Kids and dogs belong together, especially when it's a fun-loving canine like Sam. An appealing tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-8037-1530-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1996

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