Louie Stowell, a prolific and highly regarded author of non-fiction for children, has just written her first novel. The Dragon In The Library is a fast-paced adventure about the importance of books and libraries, with a delightfully enjoyable plot featuring dragons, wizards and excessive amounts of magic.
Kit is a reluctant reader and cannot think of a worse way to spend her summer holidays than being stuck in a library with her friends, Alita and Josh. She’s bored and fed up until she is approached by Faith, a mysterious librarian, who guarantees that she will be able to find a book Kit enjoys. As their relationship with Faith develops, the friends begin to realise that the library is under threat from the sinister Mr Salt, who has grand, if somewhat vague, designs for the building. However, this turns out to be only the beginning of their problems. Dragons, wizards and exploring real books all help to make the summer break far more exciting (and dangerous) than Kit could ever have imagined.
The Dragon In The Library is an excellent book for children aged 7 – 9 who are continuing their journey towards reading independence. It is energetic, engaging and accessible, with numerous twists and turns along the way. The main characters are easy to empathise with, and the strength of their friendship is tested several times during the story. None of them are flawless individuals, but, when working as a team, they show the benefits of cooperation. The shrewd and charismatic librarian provides a new stance, going against traditional lazy stereotypes. From an adult perspective, I enjoyed the references to classic stories of the past, including The Wizard of Earthsea and the traditional Russian fairy tale, Baba Yaga.
The important core message about the value of reading is continuously reinforced throughout the story and provides several teaching opportunities for advertising the benefits of reading for pleasure. The timing of The Dragon In The Library is excellent; if ever there was a need for more stories about the value and necessity of keeping libraries open, then surely it is now.
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