Monday, September 08, 2008

REVIEW: The Library Card

Title: The Library Card
Author: Jerry Spinelli
ISBN: 0439856272
Protagonist(s): four children for whom a library card has a profound impact upon their lives
Setting: present-day, anywhere from urban to country
Children's Fiction, Standalone
Rating: B

First Line: Fingers trembling, eyes on the man at the cash register, Mongoose snatched the Milky Way bar and stuck it in his coat pocket.

Jamie Hill (Mongoose) has just turned twelve. He seems to have a lot of time on his hands, and he spends most of it with his best friend, Bobby Morgan (Weasel). Weasel dreams of the day he'll turn sixteen so he can quit school. His idea of a good time is shoplifting, selling the proceeds for spray paint, tagging everything that doesn't move, and dreaming of that hot Firebird he's going to have. Jamie is content to go along with everything Weasel does...until Jamie finds a library card.

Brenda has had a passionate love affair with television since she was an infant. Unfortunately for her, her school has a week-long project: The Great TV Turn-Off. Brenda is just about to drive herself and everyone around her insane...until she finds a library card in her room where the TV used to be.

Sonseray's mother died of a drug overdose. He and his uncle are calling an ancient Cadillac Eldorado home while his uncle is between jobs. Sonseray is filled with rage and takes that rage out on everyone and everything around him...until he happens to find a library card.

April's most prized possession is her NYC library card. She's not happy about her family's move from New York City to a mushroom farm out in the middle of the country...until she happens to see a bookmobile on the road past her farm.

This book was written for children from (roughly) ages 8 to 12, so the writing was a bit more simplistic than I'm used to. I thought Brenda's story was the weak one of the quartet, and the two strongest were Mongoose and Sonseray. The last two were so in need of something that would help steer them onto different paths. For a reader like me, it was wonderful that books, libraries and librarians were what helped them. This was a nice, quick read that made me remember what a special place books have had in my life.

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