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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THE NAME JAR

Unhei has just left her Korean homeland and come to America with her parents. As she rides the school bus toward her first day of school, she remembers the farewell at the airport in Korea and examines the treasured gift her grandmother gave her: a small red pouch containing a wooden block on which Unhei’s name is carved. Unhei is ashamed when the children on the bus find her name difficult to pronounce and ridicule it. Lesson learned, she declines to tell her name to anyone else and instead offers, “Um, I haven’t picked one yet. But I’ll let you know next week.” Her classmates write suggested names on slips of paper and place them in a jar. One student, Joey, takes a particular liking to Unhei and sees the beauty in her special stamp. When the day arrives for Unhei to announce her chosen name, she discovers how much Joey has helped. Choi (Earthquake, see below, etc.) draws from her own experience, interweaving several issues into this touching account and delicately addressing the challenges of assimilation. The paintings are done in creamy, earth-tone oils and augment the story nicely. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 10, 2001

ISBN: 0-375-80613-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2001

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I AM NOT GOING TO GET UP TODAY!

After an eight-year interval, a Beginner Book by this well-loved originator of the series is welcome; and since Seuss hasn't chosen to illustrate it himself, we are lucky to have Stevenson as alternate. In the familiar Seuss pattern of a simple premise exaggerated to comic effect, a boy declares, "My bed is warm. My pillow's deep. Today's the day I'm going to sleep"—regardless of his mother, various arguments, successive waves of reinforcements, including the Marines, and a TV crew filming the momentous event. Actually, the development of the idea is a little tame compared with Seuss' other extravaganzas (and such determined all-day slumber is more the province of teen-agers and the good doctor's contemporaries than of readers at this level); but the book is delightfully enlivened by Stevenson's vigorous illustrations, which considerably augment the text by showing the full extent of the consternation caused by the hero's stubborness. Though there is plenty of the repetition required by learning readers, there are also some unusual words like Memphis, suggesting that this is not the easiest easy reader; but it has enough appeal to keep beginners entertained.

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 1987

ISBN: 0394892178

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1987

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