Quick review: Library Lily

Library Lily by Gillian Shields link

Library Lily by Gillian Shields

When Library Lily learns to read, her mother gets her a library card. From then on, Lily spends her spare time with books, enjoying the vicarious adventures they give her. Then she meets Milly, who doesn’t like reading but likes exploring. The girls befriend each other by sharing their respective activities, learning that both can offer adventures. They can even complement each other…

A lot of books tell us how exciting books can be or how inviting the library is, but Gillian Shields and Francesca Chessa actually show us. Hands up if you recognize any of this: reading during dinner and studiously avoiding spilling peas on the pages? Being so engrossed in a story that you don’t hear someone calling you? Bingo.

Chessa’s illustrations really immerse us in the girls’ enthusiasm for reading and exploring. The perspective is at their eye level, from the low bookshelves to the top of a tree. We see the whole world below, as well as the inner world of books. The snippets of Lily’s reading are in typewriter font, as if we’re peeking at the book with her, and the plots literally jump off the pages. The library is bright and colorful and well lit. The spines of the books are bright and chunky in all shapes and sizes, including a giant “furry touchy feely” book. But especially cool is the emphasis on print awareness. All signs and titles are in a bold block font, each word standing out – “library card.” “No dogs on the swings.” “This way.” The distinct fonts for books and signage reinforce the recognition of words as their own things, separate from visual noise.

Best of all, the way the words catch the eye evokes the sense of discovery and pride that comes with learning to read – when you’re still collecting written vocabulary word by word, and each is something you find or meet or recognize. If you’re like Lily, you don’t lose that motivation. Even when you start stringing words together faster and faster, all the words are precious just because they’re words and everywhere.

Library Lily would make a great book for National Library Week, or a wonderful book for someone’s first library card.

Note: Not to be confused with Library Lil.

About Amy

Children's librarian, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
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