Prather’s Pick: Picture book set in New York Public Library
This week’s new picture book for children is a creative story, but it’s educational, as well. That’s what makes it so special — that and the spectacular artwork. The illustrations are so realistic the reader might feel as though he or she is actually inside the library.
“Lost in the Library: A Story of Patience & Fortitude” was written by Josh Funk and illustrated by Stevie Lewis. It was published in 2018 by Henry Holt & Company.
The setting for the story is the New York Public Library, more specifically, the Fifth Avenue entrance of the Steven A. Schwarzman Building. That’s where two marble lions, Patience and Fortitude, stand guard, one on each side of the entrance. According to a fact page at the back of the book, the lions have stood watch there since 1911 and were given their names in the 1930s. Of course, for purposes of the story, the lions are able to move around and talk — but only when nobody is watching.
The story is told in rhyme.
As the book opens, Fortitude awakens when it isn’t quite dawn. He’s about to wish Patience a “good morning” when he notices the lion is missing. Fortitude never abandons his perch, but Patience often does. It isn’t long before sunrise, and Fortitude is worried Patience isn’t in his usual place to greet visitors. So, Fortitude leaves his post for the very first time. He knows Patience is inside the library.
When Fortitude enters the library, he finds himself in Astor Hall, and it’s huge. The ceiling is 12 elephants tall and dozens of buffalo wide. The illustration is so realistic the reader might even imagine the echoes inside.
Fortitude finds stairs that run every which way and rooms and rooms full of books. He also finds, and talks to, a statue of a frolicsome girl (actually named Frolicsome Girl), a wall of talking portraits, and a lion-head water fountain which are all part of the library.
The frolicsome statue suggests Patience might be in the Rose Main Reading room, because he sometimes goes there, but even though Fortitude searches the entire room, including under the tables, he can’t find Patience.
The lion-head water fountain thinks Fortitude should consult a map. That leads him to the Map Room. (According to the fact page, the library houses 433,000 sheet maps and 20,000 books and atlases.) Fortitude finds a visitor’s map and guide to the library. Finally, he visits the ground floor realizes what Patience finds so intriguing about the library.
This book is a winner! Not only is it a lot of fun, but the reader will learn a lot about this historic library.
The hardcover book costs $17.99, but you can also find the book in the children’s room, with new books, at the Craig branch of Moffat County Libraries.