Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Turning the Page: The Return of the Library Dragon by Carmen Agra Deedy


"Time has come to turn the page" says Miss Lotty, the beloved librarian of Sunrise School. The students had hoped that she would shelve plans for retirement, but Miss Lotty says her departure is long overdue.

Happily the librarian promises to remain in circulation and renew old friends. When asked to recall her fondest memories as a librarian, she replied, Dewey-eyed, "Over twenty years ago, a little footnote of a girl named Molly Brickmeyer showed me how wrong I was to keep children from their books."

It's true. Sweet Miss Lotty, nee Ms. Lotta Scales, was once a real Library Dragon, until she shed her draconian operating system (along with her scales) and devoted her fiery fielty to her treasure trove to sharing it with the kids of Sunrise Elementary. But now the Sunrise kids are distraught.

"If you leave, "who will read to the little kids?" pleaded Milo, "or dress up in goofy costumes for Library Week?"

"Why, the new librarian will do all that--and more" Miss Lotty reassured him.

Sunrise's legendary "library goddess" is really ready for retirement. That is, until she shows up for her last day at work, sees an ominous sign on the door (PROGRESS IN PROGRESS), and finds her library lair looted of ALL of its treasured tomes, replaced by a winking, blinking, beeping bunch of devices, presided over by the IT guy, Mike Krochip, now in charge of Sunrise Library ver.2, The Cybary!

"It's a brave new world," beamed Mike Krochip. "Check out the Book-Be-Gone 500. It will Kindle your Fire!" Mike tells Miss Lotty.

Suddenly Miss Lotty feels the fire of ire growing inside her, filling her with hot rage. A little puff of steam passes her lips as she blasts, "That's Lotta Scales to you, Mister!" The Library Dragon, claws, scales, tail, and all, stands in her precious library in its brand-new "improved" edition and takes the opportunity to fire Mike Krochip and sear his trove of whiteboards, printers, tablets, and e-readers.

"I will eat every last byte before I'll let them take my library." roars Lotta Scales.

Will Sunrise Elementary return to its bygone book era, or will it become merely a download depot for tablet devices? Is there to be no cyber compromise at Sunrise?

Almost twenty years after their first book, The Library Dragon, became beloved of bibliophiles, Carmen Agra Deedy and Michael White have re-Friended in their cyber- friendly sequel, Return of the Library Dragon (Peachtree, 2012), with their portrayal of a revised Sunrise School Library in the hands of its savior, the now degreed and certified "Media-Library-Cyber-Book Specialist," Molly Brickmeyer herself, who promises that as the new library goddess of Sunrise, hers will be a place for all formats, but a place where kids can still "unplug" if they wish and read those treasured books.

Like its predecessor, this sequel comes with a full set of apps in the form of punny wordplay, from the text itself to the sly touches among the illustrations. (Even the books in the library have spoofy titles.) Older readers will giggle at literary allusions to the McPad and the MePod and adults will delight in this comic view of the transition of the modern library. With its predecessor, this newest release makes fine fare for Library Week story time.

Kirkus Reviews hands out kudos for this update: "White's brightly colored, squashed and squiggly full-bleed illustrations match the tale for good goofiness. Pro-book and -library quotes on the endpapers and multiple punny book titles in the illustrations add an extra touch of fun."

In a bit of an ironic twist, perhaps at the bequest of Miss Lottie, Return of the Library Dragon ia NOT available in an e-book version, not even from Book-Be-Gone, er,!

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