Nia and the New Free Library
written by Ian Lender
illustrated by Mark Pett
Review Copy from Chronicle Books
When a tornado carries off the town library, it’s up to Nia to convince the community that they need to build a new library. This proves especially challenging since everyone seems to think that libraries have become obsolete. Inspired by the folk tale, Stone Soup, a marvelous detail that is not revealed until almost the end of the book, Nia writes and illustrates a wagonload of books and begins loaning them out. But Nia’s patrons seem to have problems with her books, from the plots to the illustrations. Nia fields every complaint with roughly the same response of, "Oh well, maybe you can fix it," while handing them a pencil. Soon enough, the townsfolk have written so many books that they begin to discuss the many ways they can store them, eventually coming together to build a library. Realizing they have a library but no head librarian, Nia asks the crowd at the ribbon cutting who wants the job and almost everyone raises their hand. The unity of coming together to build the library continues within its walls, with everyone gathering to help and share their various areas of expertise, or simply enjoying the "cozy quiet of a book-filled place" to paint, knit, write, learn to use a computer and, of course, read. And, just as she settles down to read her favorite book, Nia’s quietude is disrupted when a tornado carries the school away . . .
Lendler’s author’s note shares the inspiration for Nia and the New Free Library and it’s possibly even more inspirational than the story he has written! It is definitely worth reminding readers, especially after our pandemic year of isolation, that libraries, in addition to all the other amazing, wonderful, important things libraries do, they build communities. As Lendler writes at the end of his author’s note, "a library is an expression of a town and all the people who live in it."
July 22, 2021 at 01:05PM Tanya