midnightlibraryKazuno Kohora
(Macmillan Children’s Books)

While everyone else is fast asleep,  a very special library opens its doors to animals who come from all over town to visit it and read books there. Staffed by a little librarian and her three assistant owls, together they try to find the perfect read for each and every one of their customers. And with a noisy squirrel band, an emotional wolf and a keen but slow-reading tortoise, they are all in for another busy night at the Midnight Library.

In these austere times when our libraries are threatened daily and hugely misunderstood, The Midnight Library can be hailed as a library manifesto aimed at little people and their carers. In fact, aimed at everyone. Our little librarian and her assistants help the community (finding a rehearsal space for the Squirrel band in their activity room), give support to an upset member of the public (Miss Wolf is worried about sad endings) and gives advice and support about a young reader worried about the pace at which he is reading and is unsure about how the library works (Poor little Turtle did not realise he could take the book home to read). All in a night’s work, and always with a smile too. Reminds you of someone? Yes, indeed, all the friendly librarians around the country who work immensely hard to support their local communities.

The Midnight Library is a wonderful picture book for all little readers who are lucky enough to have a localmidnight2 library and are taken it to; not only does it work as a “how to use” guide, but it showcases what an amazing Aladdin’s cave, what an utterly special place libraries are. Within the pages of this book, you will find a real feel of how much the library is at the heart of the community, and how inclusive it is. But also, importantly, on each and every page, there are characters with books in their hands (and paws): laughing, crying, sharing, loving books and stories. It is a heart-warming, and hopefully not yet nostalgic, view of what libraries really are about.

If you have not yet encountered Kazuno Kohara’s work, do remedy this straight away; her bold style, using linocut and an extremely limited palette of colours (in this case three colours) is incredibly beautiful and effective. Her drawings are dynamic, slightly manga-esque and very child-friendly.

The Midnight Library is a declaration of love to libraries.
Will someone send one to Ed Vaizey, please?


Source: review copy from publisher