“THE LONELY BOOK,” by Kate Bernheimer and Chris Sheban, Schwartz & Wade, Hardcover, April 24, 2012, $17.99 (ages 5 and up)
When the book first arrives at a library, it gets lots of attention, shuttling between children’s homes and the shelf where the newest books are kept. After a while, the book joins other well-loved selections in the children’s area. It’s still taken home frequently and is happy.
But as the years pass, the book becomes old and worn. Children stop checking it out, and the book becomes lonely. One day, a little girl named Alice finds the book and begs to take it home. The book is read six nights in a row and even gets taken to Alice’s show-and-tell. After a week, the book returns to the library and accidentally sent to the Book Sale.
Alice misses the book and looks for it each Saturday, but it’s nowhere to be found. Over time, Alice moves on to other books, and the book grows lonelier and lonelier. Then comes the day of the Book Sale and the book and Alice are reunited forever. Alice doesn’t mind that the book is worn or that the last page is missing. She knows just what it says, “And they lived happily ever after.”
“The Lonely Book” is a delightful idea. It really makes one think about the lives books in the library lead. It’s beautifully illustrated with the soft feel to it that feels as homey and comfortable as a treasured book. The story, however, is quite long, and might be hard for beginning readers to sit through. I would suggest it for children who have longer attention spans. That aside, it’s a sweet picture book that’s a refreshing change from all the bells and whistles surrounding us these days.
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