Wednesday, December 09, 2020

Borrow the Book: Tomas and the Library Lady by Pat Mora

It was midnight. The light of the moon followed the tired old car. Tomas missed his own bed in his own house in Texas.

Tomas and his family were farm workers who picked fruits and vegetables for Texas farmers in the winter and for Iowa farmers in the summer. During the day Tomas and his brother bring water to the workers, and when it is very hot, his grandfather sits with him and his brother in the shade of a tree and tells them stories. Tomas know them all, every word of them.

One day Papa' Grande said, "Tomas, you know all of my stories. There are many more in the library. You are big enough to go by yourself. Then you can teach us new stories!"

So one morning Tomas found himself peering through the glass of the front door of the town library.

It was HUGE!

There were so MANY books! But a kind librarian offered him a cool drink of water and asked him what kind of books he would like to read.


Tomas read and read for hours.

"Tomas?' said the librarian softly. The library was empty. the sun was setting. "Would you like to borrow two books?"

The kind librarian checked them out to herself and gave them to Tomas to take back with him, and all summer Tomas read books from the library. Sometimes he taught Spanish to the librarian and sometimes she showed him books on new subjects he had never thought of. Tomas also read the new stories to Enrique, Papa' Grande' and his parents. And when it was time to return to Texas, Tomas came to say goodbye to the librarian. She gave him the gift of a book of his own.

Tomas Rivera never stopped reading, and one day he became a chancellor of the University of California in Riverside, as told in Pat Mora's Tomas and the Library Lady (Random House). Moving and inspiring, this story for middle elementary readers tells the true story of the enrichment that reading and libraries can make in a life of a child and in the life of the community. Young elementary readers will identify with Tomas and find this simple story encouraging them to enter a library and let it open up the world to them. Of Raul Colon's illustrations, Kirkus Reviews says "Colon's dreamy illustrations capture the brief friendship and its life-altering effects in soft earth tones, using round sculptured shapes that often depict the boy right in the middle of whatever story realm he's entered."

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