The Lonely Book by Kate Bernheimer

Lynn: If there was ever a book designed to go straight to a booklover’s heart it is this gorgeous sweet picture book, The Lonely Book (Random/Schwartz & Wade 2012).

Once there was a brand new beautiful book and on the cover was a picture of of a girl under a toadstool in a forest.  The book was placed with other new books at the library and the children loved the book so much that it hardly ever slept at the library.  As the years past, the book was read so often that it was now a little battered and the last page was missing.  Eventually it wasn’t checked out much anymore and grew very lonely.  But in the sort of magic that takes place every day in libraries, a little girl found the book and knew that this book was perfect for her.  Alice’s father read the book six nights in a row at bedtime and Alice read it to herself by the light of the moon.

Even for a perfectly matched reader and book, the path of true love doesn’t always run smoothly and Alice loses and then finally finds the book again – in a library used book sale.  But this time she gets to keep it forever.  Sigh of satisfaction!  OK – I admit it – I teared up at the end and no true book lover could do otherwise!  Chris Sheban uses a shadowy palette and the soft watercolor and pencil illustrations provide an intimate sense of cozy nostalgia.  He uses perspective to reinforce a child’s view of the world and oh, would I ever like to have some of these illustrations to frame!

I’ve watched the children in my family read a book over and over again and I’m willing to bet that most of us can instantly talk about treasured books from our own childhoods.  Cindy and I recently did a post on this very subject!  You know, I bet those Bookhouse volumes are getting a little lonely up on those shelves – maybe it’s time to get them out for another read.

Cindy: Bah! Books are dead. Or so I hear. What am I saying? This book is proof that book lovers will always prevail. I remember the book that I learned to read with: Ann Likes Red. When I found it in a book sale I snatched it up and added to a shelf of very special books. Was it great literature? Nope, but it was the book that I memorized and was sure that I could READ. I will be forever grateful to my father who read it to me again and again (along with the speech bubbles on the Adam West BATMAN television show: Bam! Pow! Biff!)  I’m with Lynn…I would love to frame some of the pages from this book. I especially love the page with the girl dripping with rain at the book sale clutching the found book to her chest. How can you be lonely when you have a favorite book in hand?



About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

3 Comments on "The Lonely Book by Kate Bernheimer"

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  1.' ed Spicer says:

    Not a fan. That shelf worn book with the ripped pages should have been weeded a long time ago or given to the girl by the librarian before the last page was ripped out.

  2. Oh, Ed! You should see my library’s copy of Charlotte Cullin’s CAGES OF GLASS, FLOWERS OF TIME. You would weed it but it is out of print and I can’t bear to let it go. The book in question here was the librarian’s favorite as a child…no way could she throw it out for a few tears and one last missing page that she knew by heart. But thank you for voicing an alternate opinion.–The hitch for me was how the book ended up in the book sale when it clearly had not been withdrawn officially from the collection.–Cindy

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