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LIBRARY LILY by Gillian Shields


by Gillian Shields & illustrated by Francesca Chessa

Pub Date: July 8th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-8028-5401-8
Publisher: Eerdmans

This gentle read presents a rosy-cheeked child, brand-new library card in hand, dazzled by the array of choices surrounding her on the shelves.

“There were fat books, thin books, great enormous square books, old books, new books, and furry-touchy-feely books.” The title’s large trim size invites the listener inside the venerable building too, as do the vivid colors and whimsically shaped and decorated volumes. The protagonist earns her moniker when people notice her total absorption in the literary life. Lily is never without a book, and her tastes run the gamut from “rare lesser Amazonian” snakes to ghost stories. Her mother finally prods her to play in the park, where she meets the tree-climbing Milly, who hates reading. As their friendship develops, they come to appreciate the thrill of discovery in each other's realms. The thick, layered brushwork of the backgrounds and characters contrasts with the bits of cut-paper collage and simple shapes outlined in pencil to present a visually stimulating world—inside and outside the books. While there are no surprises here (nor cell phones, nor iPads), and not enough action to entertain rambunctious listeners, Chessa’s depiction of the interplay between the stories on the pages and those enacted by the girls is both clever and heartwarming.