Freedom and libraries: an essential combination.
During the tumultuous days of the Arab Spring when Egyptians marched to bring down their government, youthful demonstrators and library staff stood together to protect the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, contemporary counterpart to the Great Library of Alexandria, from vandalism. Roth’s exuberant collages capture these heady moments, blending photos, papers and fabrics to bring the people’s positive actions and the building’s intriguing facade together in a celebration of patriotism and libraries. The co-authors personalize the historical events by using Shaimaa Saad, a former children’s librarian, as the narrator. The text begins traditionally but quickly changes to indicate that this is a contemporary story: “Once upon a time, / not a long time ago, / many people in Egypt / were sad and sometimes angry, / because they were not free to speak, / or vote as they wished, or gather in groups.” Young people one by one join Dr. Ismail Serageldin, the library’s director, in a human chain around the building and unfurl a giant Egyptian flag on its steps (also shown in photographs at the end) with palpable ebullience. Extensive and accessible backmatter includes information about the ancient and modern libraries, the January 25, 2011, Revolution, an author’s note, resources, protest-sign translations and graphic motifs.
A stunning visual recreation of a recent historical event. (Informational picture book. 6-9)