'The Dragon in the Library' is an absolute joy! Not only does it contain a vital message about the importance of libraries and the magic of reading, it also unfurls with genuine childish charm. I LOVED it!
Kit finds reading a challenge. Her friends, Alita and Josh, don't. Under the guidance of Faith, the librarian, Kit discovers the magic of books. However, the library is under threat and Kit and her friends must help save it... And save the world too, of course!
Since 2010 nearly 500 libraries have been closed across the UK and around 8,000 librarians have lost their jobs. This is astonishing and quite frankly frightening. Books, language, the arts, are at the heart of what makes civilization. Without them we lose what it means to be human. I feel very fortunate to live in Hertfordshire where libraries are still valued; I have two fantastic libraries close by to me. But, nevertheless, this is not the case for lots of people, children included, across the country.
What Louie Stowell has been able to do quite brilliantly is highlight the importance of these cultural institutions in a lighthearted and magical way. She works a spell on the reader; a spell of wonder, delight and truth. Metaphorically, 'The Dragon in the Library' chimes, roars with such truth about the power of reading that I cannot help but be utterly convinced by it. While funny and charming, it is almost Jungian in its message. Without books and libraries we cannot quiet those darker aspects of ourselves; the archetypal dragons within us. I love this idea so much. I won't be able to ever go into a library without thinking of this now - such childish glee!
Kit is a great character and will appeal to children who also struggle with reading. This is very much a book for reluctant readers too, which is just fab. Faith, the librarian, is a fantastic role model - please let's not lose potential characters like her from our libraries or indeed our schools! The evil Salt is a bombastic villain, who makes you laugh because he stands for everything that undermines culture and humanity. It's worth noting Davide Ortu's wonderful illustrations as well, which brings the book even more to life and compliments the joy of Stowell's writing.
This is a book that will hold pride of place on my bookshelf. When my daughter is old enough, I will be insisting she reads this as a little forest of story magic in a world losing the plot.
Thank you to the excellent Nosy Crow for sending me a copy!