The Lost Library by Rebecca Stead and Wendy Mass

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The Lost Library, a middle grade novel co-authored by Rebecca Stead and Wendy Mass (Feiwel & Friends, August 2023) is a magical mystery that celebrates the power of books. Evan loves books, so he eagerly takes two from the new “Little Free Library” that was built in front of the town’s history museum. The books lead him on a quest to find out what happened to the town library, which burned down many years ago. Answering his questions gives him a new perspective on his own family.

I say this book is magical because there are “ghosts” present, but also because of the unrealistic feel to the story, which seems to be set in the present day. The narration alternates between the cat Mortimer’s perspective (3rd person), Evan’s perspective (3rd person), and the perspective of the former assistant librarian Al (1st person). I’m not a fan of various perspectives shifting from 1st to 3rd person, but it is fun to see all three perspectives throughout the story. Al, who tries to be invisible, was the assistant librarian in the building on the day it burned down, and she feels haunted by this past. With the cat’s help, the mystery is solved. Al no longer needs to worry, Mortimer finds peace, and Evan’s life if changed.

As an adult, I felt that the fantasy elements were unsatisfactory. It almost felt ridiculous in the way the mystery is solved, and I noticed a few issues that distracted me from the story. (For example, the cat is still alive 23 years later?) But I know I am not the main audience, I’m an adult!

The Lost Library was written for lower Middle Grade audiences, and they are sure to like the animal stories, the mystery, and the ghostly aspect. It is a short and sweet book just right for anyone who loves reading books themselves. From my perspective, the book nicely showed the symbolic power of books: books save, help one through difficult times, unite community, and, ultimately, frame one’s life.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advance review copy of this book provided by the publisher via NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Reviewed on August 1, 2023

About the author 

Rebecca Reid

Rebecca Reid is a homeschooling, stay-at-home mother seeking to make the journey of life-long learning fun by reading lots of good books. Rebecca Reads provides reviews of children's literature she has enjoyed with her children; nonfiction that enhances understanding of educational philosophies, history and more; and classical literature that Rebecca enjoys reading.

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