The Lost Library by Rebecca Stead and Wendy Mass
Publisher: Feiwel Friends
Number of pages: 224 pages
Publishing: August 29th, 2023
Opening Lines: "Mortimer waited on the cool stone basement floor in front of mouse door number four, his fluffy orange body covering as much territory as it could."
The Martinville History House is one hundred- and fifty-years-old. It's also home to Mortimer, a resident tabby cat, and three ghosts, Al, Ms. Scoggin and her patron Mr. Brock. Mortimer is the guardian of the house's remaining library cart of books, protecting them from the mice who wander in looking for food. Each night, Mortimer gently guides the mice back outside before any of his precious books can be damaged. Then one day, to Mortimer's dismay, Al and Ms. Scoggin take his beloved books outside, and places them inside a little free library for the community to enjoy. Mortimer can't part with the collection, so he chooses to stay outside with the little library and continue to protect the books.
Eleven-year-old Evan also lives in Martinville and is surprised by the mysterious appearance of the little free library overnight. Curious, he wanders over, selecting two weathered books from the shelf and takes them home. Evan excitedly shares the book titles with his father, who quickly excuses himself and vanishes into his office. Evan finds his dad's reaction mysterious and begins to investigate the books closer. The first book is titled How to Write a Mystery Novel and the second is worn and covered with tape making it difficult to make out the title. Inside the books are circulation cards indicating they came from Martinville Library, which is strange because the town doesn't have a library. Everyone knows it burned down quite a long time ago. Haunted by the sudden appearance of the books Evan draws in the help of his best friend Rafe to try and determine what happened to the town's library and exactly who these books belonged to. Along the way he might also find out why his father reacted so strangely to the books he showed him.
The Lost Library is told in the alternating point of views of Mortimer (the cat), Al (a ghost librarian), and Evan (a boy about to graduate from fifth grade and the first patron at the new little library). It's a gentle mystery, told in short chapters and with its alternating POV's it will quickly immerse the reader in to trying to solve the mystery of what caused the fire that destroyed the towns library twenty years ago. Evan is defiantly one determined kid, and I enjoyed his enthusiasm in wanting to solve the mystery with his best friend, Rafe. I also really appreciated that the authors wanted to write a story about the love of reading, books and something that is so librarian positive. Illustrating "the power of a good book (and of course the librarian who gave it to you)." What wonderful messaging. Mortimer is such a lovely library cat; doesn't he just look so comfortable lounging on the top of the little free library on the cover? Such a bibliophile too. Truly a fun read that speaks to my own reader's little heart. Now I feel the sudden urge to go and donate some more books to my local little free libraries to share.
I hope you'll check out all the other Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday posts at Greg Pattridge's blog HERE