Such a Library!

Intergalactic Afikoman. Jun. 2020. 40p. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9781951365028.
PreS-Gr 2–A retelling of a Yiddish folktale about a man who complains to the rabbi that his house is too crowded. Here, the protagonist is a young boy and the shtetl setting is replaced by a vibrant, contemporary library and a spunky librarian. Stevie is eager to curl up with his new library book in a big chair, but as he begins to read he is distracted by the sounds of other patrons’ pages turning, computer keys tapping, and the voice of a storyteller. When he complains to the librarian that “it’s like a party in here,” she opens a book and hundreds of balloons float up from the pages while a group of partygoers appears. Of course, this makes everything worse for Stevie, who complains that the “library is turning into a zoo.” Thrilled by this new suggestion, the librarian opens another book and zoo animals arrive. Next arrival, a circus, and when Stevie can’t take it any longer, the understanding librarian ushers everything back inside her special book. At peace with the normal library noises, Stevie is finally able to enjoy his book. Textured, highly detailed digital illustrations perfectly capture the joy and chaos of the story and also include hints from the original folktale. An author’s note connects the story to Jewish values and teachings, but regardless of one’s faith, this imaginative retelling is an absolute delight.
VERDICT The expressive, repetitive text is ideal for reading out loud; pair this with Margot Zemach’s It Could Always Be Worse for a more complete introduction.

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