When the library disappears what remains?
"When the enemy bombed the library, everything burned." So opens this story of a young boy named Peter whose family is about to find themselves moving from the edge of a war to the center. In their town bombs destroy the library and the townspeople stand in the open air reaching for the scraps and bits of paper with the whispers of words that are floating through the air looking for a place to belong.
Peter's father had one library book that he had checked out for study and it is that one book Peter's father places in a small iron box to keep safe when the family is ordered from their home and sets out with their neighbors in search of safety and acceptance.
The muted illustrations describe the sense of life being frail and sad as though someone had stolen all the joy, all the sun and all the treasure.
It falls to Peter to safeguard the iron box that holds the book. He makes choices about how and when to take the responsibility for it knowing it was the thing his father prized of all their possessions.
This is a beautiful story that quietly and without any imperious voices teaches and reminds us of the incredible potential and power of story and of books. At no time does the author tell us which war is happening though the bits and pieces of text that float in the background seem to be written in Hungarian.
This is one of those stories that reaches into you and sends the neurons flying deep, deep, deep into what it means to be a human being and how fragile and perilous our lives can be. Read this to classes of children so they understand the darkness of war and of destruction and of the light and power of the books in the libraries around them. It's gorgeous.
978-0763690847 Ages 5-9 40 pages
Recommended by: Barb Langridge, abookandahug.com