Do you remember when you got your first library card? I can remember the day my mother presented me with mine. I was on top of the world! The thought of being able to go to the library and pick out any book (and be held accountable for it) was my first lesson in responsibility. Beverly Billingsly Borrows a Book, a new picture book from Alexander Stadler, perfectly captures the wonder of those early trips to the library, portraying the joy of discovery all beginning readers experience.
The story follows young Beverly an adorable little furry gray animal as she receives her first library card from the Piedmont Public Library and checks out her first book. Due date: April 7. But Beverly is transfixed by her book about dinosaurs and can't put it down. As the weeks go by, she realizes she has gone past the due date. Not sure about what happens to a patron who does not return books on time, she asks for the advice of friends. One tells her she'll have to pay thousands of dollars; another tells her that she'll get sent to jail. Because of these horrible tidings, Beverly decides not to go to the library at all. But after a nightmare concerning the librarian, she tells her mother about her crisis and returns the book (without going to jail), making a new friend as a result. Stadler's fantastic watercolor illustrations add humor to the storyline. The book is filled with priceless images: the bird-like librarian, Mrs. Del Rubio, with glasses perched atop her beak; Beverly's nightgown covered with the words “April 7,” the dreaded due date. Another unforgettable illustration is the picture of Beverly's friend Carlton Chlomsky eating a carrot. Readers will most definitely chuckle at the sight of him.
A textile designer from Pennsylvania, Stadler does a wonderful job of capturing the mindset of children. His book is a testament to the joys of reading, a reminder to youngsters that going to the library can be exciting and fun, not just educational! Karen Van Valkenburg is a book publicist in Michigan and an avid library-goer.