A children’s librarian who keeps everything in seemingly random piles teaches local residents a lesson in this tale by Tellem (Zen the Zebra, 2015, etc.), featuring illustrations by Coules.
The story opens introducing Kathleen Konkey of the Small Town Free Library, a “chilled-out librarian” who can balance books on her head. Her library looks similar to that balanced stack: piles and piles of books on the floor, on tables, and on statues—anywhere but on the shelves. Although the narrator suggests that the library looks like a dump, it doesn’t look dingy or dirty, just chaotic, and Kathleen’s love of books shines through. When a patron asks her for a Harry Potter tome, Kathleen cites the location (by pile and number from the bottom) without even looking up from a copy of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle. She encourages comfortable posture in her teenage readers, rather than worrying about the furniture. Her memory for book location extends to titles for toddlers, and a cameo of another of Tellem’s picture books, When You Gotta Go (2013), will make the author’s fans giggle. Soon, Kathleen is confronted by her assistant, whose complaints are met with calm explanations; meanwhile, Kathleen reads and rereads her favorite books. Eventually, even the Small Town mayor gets involved, and Kathleen admits that the reason she’s so poor at organizing (outside her own brain) is that she’s too busy reading. A satisfying concluding image shows the mayor joining Kathleen atop the stacks with his nose in a good book. The delightful illustrations, which are full of book covers, are the real draw here, and they capture the kooky tone perfectly. The story is clever, and the vocabulary (with words such as “indignation” and “unruffled”) will provide fun challenges for strong independent readers. However, the message that a library job is all reading and no work underappreciates the very hard work that librarians do in order to help their patrons. Most young readers will grasp the tongue-in-cheek depiction here—but some may start making plans for a future career in reading all day.
A lighthearted ode to books featuring eye-catching, funny pictures of an eccentric character.