Here Lies the Librarian
Author: Richard Peck
Publisher: Dial Books 2006
Classification: Young Adult Fiction
Genre: Historical fiction
Topics: coming of age, humorous
Media Type: Book
Grade level: 6+
Reader's annotation: Back when cars were pretty scarce, a teen and her older brother are living on their own trying to keep the family garage going in a small mid-Western town. But everything changes when the librarians’ car breaks down.
Summary: The almost gruesome opening, a tornado torn-up cemetery, introduces us to the two main characters Jake and PeeWee (Eleanor), living on their own since their parent’s death, and the fact that after the town librarian fell down dead on the job, she has never been replaced. It is a simpler time, especially in small rural towns with one room school houses and just a few cars. Jake runs the garage left by their parents and PeeWee would rather help out there than look like a girl and go to school. But then one day a car full of library students from the city, who are out for a drive, have a need for the services of the garage. The attention Jake and PeeWee get from Irene does not go unnoticed and soon they are anxiously awaiting another visit. As their friendship develops Irene becomes a mentor to PeeWee and an encourager to Jake . The librarians manage to shake up the town with their modern ideas of what a library should include as well as their involvement in the first drag car race of the times.
Evaluation: I little bit of history and a lot of old-fashioned fun keep this story from just feeling dated. The tie-in the the first drag races at the end adds to the relevance. It is a time in American history we don’t read about much, but the main character’s search for her identity is timeless. Peck plays with language so there are quite witty conversations which add to the enjoyment of the book.
- I grew up outside of Boston, went to college in western MA and lived in NYC dancing for several years before getting my teaching credentials and unintentionally moving to Santa Cruz CA. Married and divorced with two kids almost grown, a daughter in college and a son in high school, I am thrilled to be a librarian now, something that I should have done years ago. I love the applications of technology and realize that I have been interested in that since my first computer class back in 1986 - a new requirement for teaching degrees. Finally I can combine my love of curriculum, educational resources, working with adults and children, and technology applications.