Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Read Scary: The Midnight Library by Kazuno Kohara

Kazuno Kohara does the most adorable, simple picture books - but with substance! They're not just fluff.

Last year I added this book to my 1st Grade Library Visit program and it was a huge hit with the kids. Appropriately, my 1st grade visits are always the end of October.

The story begins with a special library that opens only at night. The little librarian and her assistant owls are having a peaceful, if busy, evening when the rush begins - squirrels looking for somewhere to practice their band concert, a wolf crying because her story is unhappy, and finally a turtle who doesn't want to leave until he finishes his story. Finally, the animals are gone and it only remains for the librarian to pick out a special bedtime book for the owls.

Kohara's distinctive illustrations are two-color creations with thick, black lines. They're almost like woodcuts, but for younger kids. This book is told in yellow and blue, which is perfect for that just slightly shivery feeling of scary for the really little kids without being really frightening. Cute animals, towering bookshelves, and trees give the library a welcoming, exuberant feeling.

One of the things I love most about this book, and what makes it perfect for my library visit tours, is what an excellent job Kohara does of capturing a modern library with space for everyone. First, there's the fact that it's open at night to accommodate the animals who can't come during the day. When the squirrels are noisy they aren't asked to leave - they're shown to an activity room where they can practice. The little librarian always has a helpful response to whatever questions are thrown at her and she stays cheerful and friendly throughout her busy night.

Verdict: This is a perfect book for a toddler Halloween storytime or to welcome new friends to the library, assuring them there is room for everyone! Highly recommended.

ISBN: 9781596439856; Published 2014 by Roaring Brook Press; Purchased for the library

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