cover image The Lonely Book

The Lonely Book

Kate Bernheimer, illus. by Chris Sheban. Random/Schwartz & Wade, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-375-86226-7

Sheban’s (A Night on the Range) moody light and deep shadows haunt this tale of a library book that, like the Velveteen Rabbit, waits a long, long time for an “always-and-forever home.” The book’s cover bears “a picture of a girl in the forest under a toadstool,” and a girl named Alice falls in love with the book, loses it, then finds it again. The nameless book expresses emotion quietly but definitively: “If someone had looked closely at the lonely book’s cover, they would have seen that the girl under the toadstool had started to cry.” Bernheimer (The Girl in the Castle Inside the Museum) carefully calibrates the story’s tension to draw readers in, switching between viewpoints; at the moment Alice realizes she’s forgotten to renew the cherished book she’s taken to the library, readers see the book waiting in the basement with other book sale books, “lonelier than it had ever been.” It’s a book about books, but more particularly a book about library culture; readers who make faithful weekly trips to their own libraries will be especially charmed. Ages 4–8. Agent: Maria Massie, Lippincott Massie McQuilkin. Illustrator’s agent: Emily Inman. (Apr.)