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Here Lies the Librarian
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Out in the sticks of Indiana just before WWI, Peewee has lived with her beloved older brother Jake since their parents' passing. They live hand to mouth, scraping out a living by repairing what few newfangled cars happen by their country shack, and looking forward to the day when the road will be paved, bringing them more business. But only if the Kirbys, who own the garage in town, don't run them out first with constant theft and vandalism.
Meanwhile, a gaggle of wealthy young ladies fresh from the School of Library Science at Butler U. have come to town. Finding the little town library closed since the last librarian was found expired \"with a fistful of library cards in her cold hand,\" they determine to reopen and improve it, simultaneously improving the town and, most especially, Peewee. But Peewee, content to work on cars, isn't so sure she wants to be improved.
Is it any good?
The whole book is a delight, made even more so -- in this age of 500 plus-page tomes aimed at 9-year-olds -- by being tightly written and edited. Just to get things off to a rousing start, for example, Peck opens with a tornado that rips apart a graveyard, an event that sets the plot off in several different directions that wind their own ways for awhile before twisting together in a surprising but satisfying conclusion, followed by an even more satisfying final chapter set 60 years later.
With his last half-dozen novels, multi-award winning author Richard Peck has carved out for himself a new niche -- the rural Midwestern early 20th century comedy. This is another wonderful example of this one-man mini-genre: vivid characters (including adults, who are all too rare in children's books), lots of period detail, solid values, a nice mix of clever wit and broad comedy, independent girls, and an affectionately sardonic eye for the foibles of rural middle America, where the author grew up, all conveyed in some of the most carefully crafted prose in the business.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how things have changed between the time period in which the book is set and today -- especially for girls and women. Also, why are these wealthy and well-educated women so eager to be librarians in this hick town? How does their presence affect the locals? How does it change Peewee?