Prather’s Pick: A library that opens at midnight
The artwork for “The Midnight Library, “ written and illustrated by Kazuno Kohara, is striking, indeed. The pages are done entirely in light orange, dark blue, and black, and the combination of colors makes the midnight setting feel very real. This 2014 picture book is intended for young readers.
The two-story library is located in a town. Like other libraries, it has shelves full of books and a table and chairs for reading. There is a ladder for reaching books on the very tops of shelves, too.
But, this library is very unique.
For one thing, there are two trees without leaves but with branches for hanging decorations, like stars, and with some branches large enough for sitting. Then the patrons of the library are all animals. Maybe animals prefer night library hours because this library opens at midnight and closes at dawn.
A little librarian — who looks more like a little girl with pigtails — and her three owl assistants are there to greet the visitors when the door opens at midnight. Dogs, cats, pigs, sheep, mice, rabbits and all kinds of other animals — even a wolf — hunt for books and find comfortable places to read. The owls stack books, carry books, and fly around with books between their feet. The little librarian and the owls help everyone find the perfect books. It’s a peaceful place to be.
However, the library is not a place without some problems. For example, one night some squirrels bring musical instruments into the library and start to play music. It’s so loud that the animals have their paws over their ears. The little librarian hushes the squirrels. They don’t intend to be a problem; the squirrels are just trying to find a good song for their next concert. So the little librarian solves the problem by taking the squirrels upstairs to the activity room. Now their loud music doesn’t bother anyone.
Next, it starts to rain — or so it appears. It turns out that there isn’t a hole in the roof. It’s just Miss Wolf, who is sitting on the very top of a bookshelf. She’s crying, and her tears surely seem to be like rain. She’s been reading a story and something sad happened, and now she just can’t go on reading.
So, the little librarian and the owls take Miss Wolf to the storytelling corner where the wolf and two owls sit on a big branch of a big tree, and they all read the story together. The story has a happy ending, and the wolf stops crying.
The sun comes up, and the library bell rings out. It’s time for everyone to go home. But, one visitor does not leave. It’s the tortoise who has 500 pages left in a book.
What to do? The little librarian has a solution for this problem, too.
Finally it’s time to sweep and dust and then… there’s just one thing left to do.
This is a charming book, a great one for bedtime reading.
Author Kazuno Kohara lives in Osaka, Japan. She grew up in Japan and studied printmaking in the United Kingdom. Kohara is the author of “Ghosts in the House” which was a “New York Times” Best Illustrated Book for Children.
The book is published by Roaring Brook Press and costs $16.99 in hardcover. It’s a new book at the Moffat County Libraries.
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