cover image The Night Library

The Night Library

David Zeltser, illus. by Raul Colón. Random House, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-5247-1798-8

Zeltser (Stinker) and Colón (Imagine!) contribute to the shelf of stories about the New York Public Library’s famous lions, Patience and Fortitude. A boy wakes in the middle of the night before his eighth birthday, disappointed at his parents’ birthday present, a book: “My parents knew that I liked toys, games, and movies—not books.” He hears a “deep purring” outside, and a majestic marble lion appears outside his window and invites him to come and “meet Patience.” At the great library, the boy is greeted by flying books that take the shapes of picture book characters the boy recalls from readaloud sessions with his grandfather, whose death he still mourns. Handsome, clearly drafted drawings by Colón succeed in making the book formations recognizable as Peter Rabbit, the Cat in the Hat, and the Polar Express. Predictably, the dream rekindles the boy’s interest in reading. The first-person narration can sound more like an adult writer’s than a boy’s (“Fortitude turned and regarded me, eyes twinkling”), and extolling the value of books is a well-trod message, though Zeltser’s tale, and Colón’s renderings of the library’s magnificent rooms, may well prompt its neighbors to plan a visit. Ages 3–7. [em](Apr.) [/em]