MMGM and #IMWAYR: The Lost Library!

Why, hello there! It's been a busy few weeks for me, but I'm mostly getting accustomed to grad school. On one hand, I feel like I'm less anxious than I've ever been at the start of a semester—on the other hand, that certainly doesn't mean I'm not anxious!

Anyway, I'm glad to poke my head out to share a few random thoughts with you, as well as a review of a book that nothing was going to prevent me from reading...

Let's dive in!

Middle Grade:

The Lost Library

Written by Rebecca Stead and Wendy Mass
2023

· · · The publisher says: · · ·

When a mysterious little free library (guarded by a large orange cat) appears overnight in the small town of Martinville, eleven-year-old Evan plucks two weathered books from its shelves, never suspecting that his life is about to change. 

Evan and his best friend Rafe quickly discover a link between one of the old books and a long-ago event that none of the grown-ups want to talk about. The two boys start asking questions whose answers will transform not only their own futures, but the town itself.

Told in turn by a ghost librarian named Al, an aging (but beautiful) cat named Mortimer, and Evan himself, The Lost Library is a timeless story from award-winning authors Rebecca Stead and Wendy Mass. It’s about owning your truth, choosing the life you want, and the power of a good book (and, of course, the librarian who gave it to you).

· · · · · ·

(Forgive any confusing grammar—I drafted this late at night, when I was tired!)

Oh gosh, this was wonderful. I mean, I don't know what else you'd expect from Rebecca Stead (my favorite author ever) and Wendy Mass (whose books were a huge chunk of my childhood), but still. They did it once with Bob, and they've done it again.

This story is warm, gentle, and immersive, full of kind and thoughtful details that keep you glued to the page—I once stayed up until almost midnight trying to make a dent in the book. And it's a rare multi-POV book where you don't get bored of one POV and wish for another, but The Lost Library pulls it off.

Within an overarching mystery about the fire that destroyed Martinville's library decades ago, and at the same time that a little free library unites this community around the joy of books once again, we get to follow three characters changed by these events.

There's Evan, a fifth grader with two gentle parents, anxiety about leaving his beloved classroom behind for middle school, and plenty of determination to solve the mystery of the fire with his best friend, Rafe.

There's Mortimer, a cat who I desperately want to be my best friend (although that's neither here nor there) who is misunderstood by fellow animals, has the soul and attentive eye of a poet, and carries his own grief about the library.

And there's Al, a ghost librarian whose direction in life was shaped by books, leading her to the present, when she takes care of two ghosts, channels her energy into baking, and becomes intertwined with the little free library.

In this story, there are reveals to be had (I'm proud that I predicted some of them). There are truly beautiful character arcs. And there are scenes that feel like as much of a refuge as any book or library ever can.

And I love the brief notion that a "Great Reader" is not someone who reads complex books, or long books, or a whole lot of books, but simply someone who feels emotion around books. I suspect that means we're all Great Readers already (we as in the world), and that's a wonderful thing.

The Lost Library feels like everything you've ever loved about MG stories, packed into one—I particularly picked up on Kate DiCamillo vibes here. Rebecca Stead and Wendy Mass have already proven their storytelling talent, but The Lost Library is a fresh new tale that pushes against your expectations—and pushes its way right into your heart.

Random thoughts:

So there's good news and bad news. The good news is that Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe has been made into a theatrical movie (!!!!!). The bad news is that it's in theaters for like a week, unless I'm mistaken. So if you'd prefer to see it on the big screen and not via streaming, I suggest you go buy tickets ASAP!

(Update on Monday morning: I might say more about this at some point, but the movie is PERFECT—like, it's the movie adaptation you would dream of but never expect would actually happen. I totally cried. So seriously, go buy tickets!!!)

Other tangential ramblings: I'm still completely obsessed with Summer Camp Island, and I'm gearing up to start season 4—it's so good!

And you may also know that I love the show Steven Universe, and I have some related news on that front: the show's creator, Rebecca Sugar, is hosting a virtual fundraiser concert for the Trevor Project on September 17! So basically, it's a great cause, a totally cool person, and a bunch of wonderful songs—and Sugar also promised a "big announcement" that I am of course totally freaking out about. Even if you've never seen the show, consider donating and/or poking your head in to see this little corner of my world!

That's all, y'all—thanks for visiting! ✨✨

Comments

  1. Rebecca Stead is fantastic and a book about a mystery and a Little Free Library sounds wonderful.

    I always worry when a beloved book (Artisotle...) is made into a movie. I hope they did the novel justice.

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  2. Glad you're adjusting to grad school. I'm a big fan of Rebecca Stead too. I just reserved this book at the library based on your review. Thanks!

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  3. Little libraries are wonderful and fictional libraries are always magical as are literary cats! Sounds a super book! Glad to hear grad school has started well and you were able to join us this week!

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  4. Yeah, glad someone else read this and enjoyed it as much as I did. Happy to hear grad school is going well. Have a lovely week.

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  5. I loved, loved, loved The Lost Library! I really like its length, too. It's a good length for a read aloud and for those students who don't yet have the stamina for longer books.

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  6. It will be two weeks before The Lost Library is available for me. This really sucks because, although ever since you first mentioned it, I have wanted to read it, now that I've read your reflections, I really really want to read it now!
    Last week I reviewed a graphic novel. I really wanted to JAJ: A Haida Manga by Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas. It was mind bending in what it accomplished, the story it told, the artwork, and the purposeful layout. I hope you manage to find a copy to read. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/89624091-jaj

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  7. I loved Bob, and I have been hearing a lot about this book. I've put it on my TBR list. Hope I can get to it soon. Thanks for the recommendation.

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  8. I'm not sure that this book would circulate well with my students (Stead and Mass aren't popular here), but I'm glad you enjoyed it. And I'm impressed that you can do ANYTHING else but keep up with graduate school. For all of my friends, it was a constant struggle to get all of the work done. Take care of yourself!

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  9. I've always enjoyed books by both Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead. And libraries! What a great setting.

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  10. I have this high on my future read list. The collaboration of these two writers are a big draw.The plot you described has me even more excited to get this one on my shelf. Have a wonderful experience in grad school and Happy MMGM!!(From Greg)

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  11. I've been debating to watch the A&D movie since I love the book (and it's sequel so much) but yeah for some reason it's not playing much where I live.

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  12. The cover and your description will pull readers into this book! Carol Baldwin

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  13. The Lost Library sounds wonderful!! Stead and Mass are both favorite authors. And a Little Free Library plot? Very cool!

    And, oh my gosh, an Aristotle and Dante movie?? I had no idea they were working on that. Glad to hear it is so good. I may miss it in theaters but will be sure to look for it on streaming.

    Enjoy your books this week - and very glad to hear that grad school is off to a good start!

    Sue
    Book By Book

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  14. I'm so happy to hear that the A&D movie is good! I always get so nervous!

    And The Lost Library is by two powerhouses, so I am sure it is amazing!

    Happy reading this week!

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  15. Oh no -- I missed the Aristotle movie! I am behind on my blog rounds and it disappeared between the start of the week and when I read this. Curses!

    I'm a bit Stead and Mass fan so I will look for this book.

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