The Lost Library
By Rebecca Stead & Wendy Mass
Reviewed by Mia Macrossan
Rebecca Stead has written the award winning When You Reach Me, Liar & Spy and The List of Things That Will Not Change and more. Wendy Mass has written more than thirty novels for young readers including the Willow Falls and Candymaker series and the award winning A mango-Shaped Space. As a librarian myself this book has immediate appeal – consider the intriguing title, then there’s the dedication ‘For the librarians of the past, present, and future’; and the famous quote from Albert Einstein ‘The only thing you absolutely have to know is the location of the library.’ I’m hooked!
The ‘eye of the story’ moves from the cat Mortimer, to the boy Evan, who is in fifth grade, to Al (Assistant Librarian), who may or may not be a ghost, and back and forth. I have no idea who wrote what because this intricately woven story unfolds seamlessly, keeping the reader charmed by the quirky characters and involved in unraveling the several mysteries.
Mortimer loves the cart of old books that is all that is left of his first home, his library. It reminds him of long ago when he was a kitten and playing with his sister Petunia. When Al turns it into a little free` outside library he still feels protective. Evan takes two books from this library and discovers a link between one of the books and a long ago fire that no-one wants to talk about. He teams up with his best friend Rafe to find out what happened.
Mortimer is totally believable, written with depth and feeling, obviously written by someone who knows and loves cats. The humans are interesting too, several with surprising back stories that are gradually revealed. This story is rich in themes – the power of reading, of fame, being kind to animals, and being yourself and navigating change, all of which sit lightly on the plot, adding depth and flavour to the mix.
Even people who don’t normally frequent libraries will enjoy this charming and engrossing story, and who knows, it may encourage them to visit one.
Recommended as a Reader’s Cup title