A library card unlocks a new life for a young girl in this picture book about the power of imagination, from the Nobel Prize–winning author Toni Morrison.
On one gray afternoon, Louise makes a fateful trip to the library. With the help of a new library card and through the transformative power of books, what started out as a dull day turns into one of surprises, ideas, and fun, fun, fun!
Inspired by Pulitzer Prize–winning author Toni Morrison’s experience working in a library as a young girl, this engaging picture book celebrates the wonders of reading, the enchanting capacity of the imagination, and, of course, the splendor of libraries.
Toni Morrison (1931–2019) was a Nobel Prize–winning American author, editor, and professor. Her contributions to the modern canon are numerous. Some of her acclaimed titles include: The Bluest Eye, Song of Solomon, and Beloved, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1988. She won the Nobel Prize for Literature 1993.
Shadra Strickland studied, design, writing, and illustration at Syracuse University and later went on to complete her MFA at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. She won the Ezra Jack Keats Award and the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent in 2009 for her work in her first picture book, Bird, written by Zetta Elliott. Strickland co-illustrated Our Children Can Soar, winner of a 2010 NAACP Image Award. She teaches illustration at Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, Maryland. Visit her online at ShadraStrickland.com.
Louise, pictured as a small girl wrapped in a raincoat and armed with an umbrella, enters what she considers a strange and scary world. But at the library, she finds “shelter from the storm” and safe worlds to explore. The authors’ rhyming text, though reflective of a child’s fears (junkyard monsters, dogs, neglected buildings), does not always flow naturally, but the message is loud and clear. This is a testament to the value of reading and the imagination as ways to understand feelings and the world. Strickland’s illustrations bring Louise’s world to life; the objects of fear, in dark colors and threatening profiles, dominate the pages until the world of the library embraces her. Off comes her hooded coat, the sun comes out, and she now dominates her environment. We even see a close-up of her face, totally absorbed in a book, a friendly dog by her side. A cozy way to address the subject of fears—and to get children to the library.
The easy rhythm of the text of this book will soon lend itself to becoming a favorite read-aloud for elementary teachers and librarians. The story starts as Louise is walking to the library on a rainy day. The day is gloomy and she easily becomes frightened by the loud sounds on her path. Once she reaches the library, she begins to read and imagine a better place where she can be safe and happy. The illustrations are colorful and blend with the text to help tell the story.