April 24, 2012

True romance: a girl and her book

By Kate Bernheimer
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Any bibliophile will tell you that a book is wonderful just for being a book. If the story inside is captivating too, well, that’s icing on the cake. Beautiful and oft-read books in particular are loved by all readers, and it’s not hard to imagine those books having lives of their own.

In The Lonely Book, Kate Bernheimer imagines how a children’s book would feel when it is placed on the New Book shelf in a library, fast becoming popular and in high circulation. Over time, as with all books, the Lonely Book finds itself checked out less and less until eventually it doesn’t circulate at all.

A young girl named Alice finds it quite by accident and is immediately enchanted by its cover. Alice takes the book home and borrows it again and again. The Lonely Book (whose “real” title is never revealed) is no longer lonely and is happy to be with Alice. As readers, we feel the book’s anguish when it is separated from Alice and left with the library’s books to be discarded. We also feel the elation of both the book and Alice when they are reunited in the end.

This is a sweet story with beautiful, dream-like illustrations by Chris Sheban. Any booklovers who read it will be inspired to find a forgotten and once-treasured book for themselves.

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The Lonely Book

The Lonely Book

By Kate Bernheimer
Schwartz & Wade
ISBN 9780375862267

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