Top 100 Picture Books #51: The Library by Sarah Stewart, illustrated by David Small
#51 The Library by Sarah Stewart, illustrated by David Small (1995)
All my favorite things—stacks of books and bookshelves of books and libraries full of books! – Ellen L. Ramsay
This is my daughter. This is me. We don’t care about dances, or even doing our chores other than haphazardly, it is all about the books. And in the end, we find that kindred spirit who shares our same tastes and we spend our time together drinking tea and reading books. What a life! – Christine Kelly
When I read this book long ago (the publication date says 1995 so maybe not THAT long ago) I was a bit disturbed by this title. A 20-something year old will be. I mean, it’s about someone who spends the best hours of their life reading. But as I got older I came to understand the Elizabeth Browns of the world. This is one of those picks that appeals particularly to the librarians and booksellers of the world.
The description from my Amazon review reads, “Our heroine is Elizabeth Brown and our heroine’s method of entering the story is to fall from the sky into her mother’s outstretched laundry linen. Says the text, ‘Elizabeth Brown/ Entered the world/ Dropping straight down from the sky/ Elizabeth Brown/ Entered the world/ Skinny, nearsighted, and shy.’ From the beginning the girl is an avid reader. With her constant companions at her side (a stuffed teddy bear and a continually serene housecat) we watch as Elizabeth Brown goes to school and breaks her own bunk bed with the weight of her books. She lends them to friends and eschews the lure of the opposite sex. Older still, she starts tutoring and lives on her own, reading all the while. Then one day there’s no denying it any longer. ‘She had to face the awful fact.’ There are just too many books in the house. Without further ado her house becomes a library and she moves in with a female friend. To the end of their days they continue to read, ‘And turned page… after page… after page’.”
Once again I’d like to mention that this fall we’ll be seeing a whole new David Small / Sarah Stewart collaboration. I’ve seen bits of it and all I can say is that it will KNOCK your friggin’ socks off. That is all.
School Library Journal (which is to say, Trev Jones) said of it, “This is a funny, heartwarming story about a quirky woman with a not-so-peculiar obsession. Cheers for Elizabeth Brown, a true patron of the arts.”
Filed under: Best Books, Top 100 Picture Books Poll
About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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