The Library of Ever

Book review by
Mary Eisenhart, Common Sense Media
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Lively library series start mixes fact, fantasy, adventure.

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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

The Library of Ever mixes fact and fantasy (some incidents involve the distant future) but celebrates knowledge -- and matching it with seekers. In the process, and more or less at random, it imparts a lot of fun, intriguing facts from history, geography, math, astronomy, biology, and more. Calculating whether a certain year in the future is a leap year turns out to be a lot more complicated than it first looks, for example.

Positive Messages

Seeking knowledge and truth isn't just fun, it's essential. You often don't know where it might lead, but that's how you learn.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Librarian/Chief Answerer Malachi (who's a tall, dark-skinned woman) is a strong mentor to Lenora, and is seen in flashback saving scrolls from library-burners in past centuries. Lenora starts out with nothing more on her mind than eluding her nanny, but soon rises to the heroic challenge of being a librarian (and answerer) in training, defending knowledge against all who would destroy it.

Violence & Scariness

Some adventures are quite perilous, like getting hurled into a void that, Lenora's robot pal tells her, will eventually "rip us into nothing too." Or venturing into tombs. Creepy villains bent on keeping kids and adults from getting the knowledge they seek -- "For their own good," of course --menace and threaten the librarians with weapons and clouds of darkness.  Here, Lenora meets the first of them:

"The man's body turned slowly toward Lenora. The rest of his body was perfectly still. Then something moved under his overcoat, like a snake wriggling across his stomach. She felt a tremor inside and took a step back."

Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Library of Ever is the first installment in a new series by Zeno Alexander (who may or may not be a real person, as he's described as "elusive" and depicted as a cartoon illustration). It concerns the adventures of 11-year-old Lenora and her mentor Malachi (a woman) as they strive to preserve knowledge and make it available to all. This turns out to involve a lot of conflict with villains who want to keep people from learning things that might, for example, make them think differently. There's a lot of factual knowledge as the tale unfolds, and also futuristic fantasy, as the library of the title isn't limited by time and space, and time travel is common. Kids who love collecting odd bits of knowledge (such as whether the year 8000 will be a leap year) will have a lot of fun here. But there's also plenty of wild adventure from the Library of Alexandria to the tomb of Genghis Khan.

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What's the story?

Eleven-year-old Lenora may have crazy-rich parents, but they've gone traveling without her and left her to a life of misery riding around with her nanny in a limo. But when they unexpectedly wind up in a library, Lenora loses no time in ditching the nanny, exploring the shelves, doing a good deed for a boy seeking books -- and landing in THE LIBRARY OF EVER, home of all knowledge past, present, and future. Before she knows what's going on, she's sworn in as a librarian in training, dedicated to protecting accurate knowledge and making it available to all those who seek it. This, it turns out, pits her and her new mentor against some smarmy, sinister characters who want to keep a lot of that knowledge under wraps. 

Is it any good?

You never know where young Lenora will find herself battling the forces of ignorance and dark next as this wild library adventure veers from the distant future to the tomb of Genghis Khan. With robots. Along the way in The Library of Ever, readers will pick up a lot of knowledge about science, history, math, and more -- and an appreciation for why that knowledge matters.

"'Perhaps I misjudged you, Lenora,' he said, and the frost was in his voice, too. 'I thought you were wise enough to know that children must be discouraged from asking questions that will make them curious and fretful. Perhaps I overestimated you. After all, you're just a child yourself.'

"'Maybe,' said Lenora with equal frost. 'But I'm also a librarian. And I'm not going to hide the truth from anybody.'"

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the libraries in The Library of Ever.  How are they diffrent from libraries you've been to where you live or at your school? What's your favorite thing to do at the library?

  • Does it matter to you whether something's true, or just whether you like the story? Is it possible to use fiction to tell the truth in some sense?

  • What other stories do you know that take place in libraries? Do you have any favorites?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love strong heroines and fun fantasy

Themes & Topics

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