Forthcoming April 2012 from Schwartz & Wade/Random House Children’s Books, with breathtaking illustrations by Chris Sheban.
To keep The Lonely Book company, here is a beautiful classroom or home activity booklet produced by Random House:
Sheban’s (A Night on the Range) moody light and deep shadows haunt this tale of a library book that, like the Velveteen Rabbit, waits a long, long time for an “always-and-forever home.” The book’s cover bears “a picture of a girl in the forest under a toadstool,” and a girl named Alice falls in love with the book, loses it, then finds it again. The nameless book expresses emotion quietly but definitively: “If someone had looked closely at the lonely book’s cover, they would have seen that the girl under the toadstool had started to cry.” Bernheimer (The Girl in the Castle Inside the Museum) carefully calibrates the story’s tension to draw readers in, switching between viewpoints; at the moment Alice realizes she’s forgotten to renew the cherished book she’s taken to the library, readers see the book waiting in the basement with other book sale books, “lonelier than it had ever been.” It’s a book about books, but more particularly a book about library culture; readers who make faithful weekly trips to their own libraries will be especially charmed.
Author of The Girl in the Castle Inside the Museum (2008), Bernheimer continues to explore themes of loneliness and the transporting power of books in this gentle, affecting story about a bereft children’s book. When a young, tousle-haired girl named Alice finds a once popular, now long-forgotten book in a dark corner of the library, she immediately sees it for the gem that it is, reading the tale of a girl who lives under a toadstool over and over and over again. The following Saturday, however, amid the hubbub of the library’s story hour, Alice and the book are separated. Fairy-tale-scholar Bernheimer ends her story happily, of course, eventually reuniting the pair at a librarybook sale. Sheban’s superb, softly textured illustrations further heighten the emotions of the substantial text with dramatic compositions and dazzling, ethereal washes of light. A breathtaking, wordless final spread ends this title happily ever after.
Subtle personification imbues the titular lonely book with longing for a child to read its story. Initially, the book is not lonely at all. Indeed, it’s quite popular with library patrons, until it becomes tattered with use and is finally forgotten on the shelves among the other, newer titles. Then, a girl discovers the book, and even though it is missing its last page, she delights in the story and pictures about a little fairy living under a toadstool. She checks it out and enjoys reading it with her father and sharing it at school. Unfortunately, she forgets to renew it when she returns to the library and mistakenly leaves it on the floor. A parenthetical plot twist has a volunteer put the bookin the library’s book sale. In a happily-ever-after ending befitting the text’s nostalgic tone, girl and book are reunited at the book sale and she takes it home. Throughout, Sheban’s soft watercolor illustrations present a warm, cozy depiction of the child’s communion with her cherished book. A lovely story in its own right, this picture bookmay make readers clamor for the story within the story about the little fairy living under her toadstool.
School Library Journal
This sweetly sentimental tale centers around a beloved library book (“It was green with a yellow ribbon inside to mark its pages”). As the years go by, it becomes tattered and loses a leaf, and fewer and fewer children check it out. A girl named Alice loves the book and takes it home, but when she forgets to renew it, it is relegated to storage in the library basement. At last it’s time for the big book sale, and the book is reunited with the child and taken to its “always-and-forever home.” Sheban’s glowing watercolors perfectly capture the quietly magical hardwood-and-sunshine feel of a classic public library. This understated story will resonate with any child who knows that abook can become a dear friend.