“She closed her eyes and breathed deeply. She could smell books, and even more, possibility.”
This middle-grade story was so much fun to read! A fast-paced adventure set in a magical library had me smiling all the way. The main character, eleven-year-old Lenora, is the definition of “plucky,” with her endless curiosity, strong sense of right and wrong, and take charge attitude. The Library of Ever is both the title and the place Lenora finds herself after a troubling encounter at the city library:
“…the nanny marched up the steps… with Lenora in tow. But she was only in tow at first, then gradually less so as they climbed the stairs. By the time they reached the front desk, she had gotten herself completely out of tow. At that point it was easy to slip away.”
Intent only on escaping to the children’s section, Lenora instead comes to the rescue of a young boy trying to enter the astrophysics section of the library. His path is blocked by a large man in a bowler hat who insists the boy is too young for such information. Lenora is intimidated, but then reads the man’s badge, “LIBARIAN.”
“That’s not how you spell librarian,” said Lenora.
The man’s eyes flickered again, like a snake’s tongue. “It’s an alternate spelling.”
Taking the boy’s hand, Lenora goes to find a real librarian to help them, but the man disappears. The boy happily enters the astrophysics section, and Lenora finds herself under a large stone archway with words chiseled upon it: Knowledge Is a Light. Curious, she passes under the arch and although in darkness, she is not afraid. “…she could smell something wonderful—the scent of many old books, a musty and thrilling odor…” There she emerges into the Library of Ever, a seemingly endless shelving of books and maps and calendars and all sorts of interesting things to learn, where librarians navigate the vast world with bridges, elevators, magical traveling tubes, and even blimps.
She meets a 10-foot-tall, stern librarian (who was originally from Ancient Egypt) who indoctrinates Lenora into her first job as a Fourth Assistant Apprentice Librarian at the Library of Ever. Lenora must take an oath to work hard, venture forth bravely, and find the answers to any question, no matter the challenge, to find a path for those who are lost, and to improvise and think on her feet and rely and wits and valor, and to oppose the enemies of knowledge with all her courage and strength, wherever they might be found. Lenora eagerly agrees and starts her first assignment in Calendars, because she incorrectly answered a question about a date.
“But wouldn’t it make more sense for me to work on things I already know about?” Lenora asked.
“Not at all!” Malachi arched one eyebrow. “Whyever would you want to do THAT? You’d learn absolutely nothing!”
So Lenora starts to learn everything she can and jumps to help anyone who asks in the Library of Ever. While being tested on every part of the oath, she meets many interesting friends along the way including Bendigeidfran, a forgetful robot from the year 8000, and a group of lost penguins (they’re not picky what you call them, unlike the belugas) that make Lenora their honorary queen. Lenora always does her best: “A lost kitten is a serious matter, and we must begin the search right away. Never fear, however. We shall venture forth boldly and find Mister Sparkles.”
While helping patrons in the Library of Ever, Lenora keeps having to avoid the people in bowler hats thwarting her every move, and she tries to understand the phrase, “Knowledge Is a Light.”
The female character speaking ratio was 42%. 14 male/10 female (3 neutral, not counted in percentage.)
For ethnic diversity, most characters are not described by skin or hair color, except Malachi, who is from Egypt and has dark skin.
I highly recommend The Library of Ever that shows the fun of learning and the importance of access to information for ages 8-12.
GeekMom received a copy for review purposes.