The Library Card

by Jerry Spinelli

Warning for SPOILERS.

Four stories about kids whose lives are changed by finding a library card. You’d think I’d love this book, but I didn’t. The stories were all just a little odd, with a sense of something slightly magical or surreal happening with the library card. This didn’t draw me in with a sense of mystical fun, but made me feel puzzled and outside the story. Somehow I just couldn’t relate well. I know I’m not the target audience though . . .

“Mongoose”: two boys, close friends, run around town causing trouble. Weasel starts stealing stuff and egging Mongoose on to do the same- then spray-painting graffiti all over the place. And dreaming of someday owning a sports car. But then Mongoose goes into the library to look up a fact, and becomes fascinated by all the amazing things he can learn from books. So much so that he wants to share the trivia with everyone. The two start drifting apart. The story’s closing scene has Weasel alone, feeling like he owns the town since he quit going to school and roams around at will. But you get the distinct sense that it’s really Mongoose who will find the world opening to him.

“Brenda”: this one felt like a really forced fable. Girl is obsessed with television. The family participates in a week of NO TV, and Brenda thinks she will perish of boredom. She’s tormented by not knowing what’s happening on her favorite shows. Brenda dreams that she finds a book in a library that details her whole life, up to the point where she started watching TV all the time. Then it’s blank pages. So she rushes out to do things, experience life, and then comes back to see the pages in the book filling up with her story again.

“Sonesray” lives out of an old car with his uncle since his mother died, constantly moving from town to town. The uncle can get and hold jobs, but the boy winds up in so much trouble they always have to leave. Sonesray is always eyeing the interactions of other children with their mothers in public, secretly missing and longing for his own mother. At the end of the story he miraculously encounters a book his mother used to read to him as a child- in a children’s library storytime- and it’s not a children’s book, but an adult romance novel.

“April Mendez”: a girl lives on a mushroom farm and gets teased for it. And she hates the smell. One day trying to escape stuff she walks as far as she can and then jumps on a strange bus. It’s a bookmobile that’s been hijacked by an angry teenager. Lots of interaction between the two- April learns why the older girl is running away, then they reluctantly exchange info (encouraged by the bus driver/librarian) and wind up being pen pals.

The mushroom farm details were fun, for being different. And one story had a boy hearing about how his mother once tried out old-fashioned roller skates on the street. She slid out of control bouncing from telephone pole to doorframe etc, while her companion took to it right away and just cruised up and down. Amusing. I didn’t at all expect to encounter roller skates in this book!

Rating: 2/5
150 pages, 1997

More opinions:
Elena Reads
anyone else?

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