Thanksgiving is staring Americans right in the face, and we’re visiting family in the DC area. I should probably post about something Thanksgiving-sy, but the fact is that I’m born Canadian and, well, frankly– you know me. My aunt took me and my Changeling to the library this morning and while we were there I was attracted by something shiny, and that’s what I’m going to post about!
Yes, the author of Ghosts in the House!, Kazuno Kohara, wrote The Midnight Library, a similarly slightly offbeat, whimsical, yet adorable adventure in a place that doesn’t quite meet your expectations.
The Midnight Library opens only at night and is run by a little librarian, extremely good at her job, with her three assistant owls. These hardworking library employees guide a band of squirrels to the activity room, calm a wolf sobbing over a sad story, and assist a tortoise who needs a library card. Of course, the final task of the day must be to find a special book for three sleepy owls…
Not at all spooky. Not at all creepy. Never going to disturb the most refined sensibilities.
And yet… there is something deeply compelling about both story and art. I think that even Neil Gaiman, master of the slightly spooky, slightly creepy story would find something to inspire him in this book. It takes place at dark, in a library, a place of infinite possibility, where anything can happen…
And indeed, at the child level, almost anything does! Oh, I don’t mean that it’s crazy; rather, it is ruthlessly logical: who better to assist in a midnight library than owls, who are wise and active at night? And of course the tortoise slowly and laboriously makes his way through an over 500-page book! It makes perfect sense.
But the logic assists the wildness of the story. It has to be a slightly absurd, offbeat place, with sobbing wolves and rowdy squirrels! It’s a midnight library, where things are going to be slightly strange… that’s only logical.
And both child and adult know, as they turn the last page, that the next story about the Midnight Library will be stranger yet.
It opens doors, as libraries do, you see– and I want to see the stories children will write about the Midnight Library themselves. What happens in their midnight libraries? And what will they plan for libraries as they grow older…?
So, maybe it’s almost Thanksgiving and I shouldn’t be posting about spooky, wild libraries. But I’m deeply thankful for libraries, and strongly recommend that any library-lover read this book!