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The Picture Book Buzz

The NEW LiBEARian - Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

If you love books and the worlds they open, both fictional and real, then you likely find libraries to be magical places. Where characters seem real and you almost fall into the stories. What if that really where the case, except that the books creep into and play within the libraries?


Author: Alison Donald

Illustrator: Alex Willmore

Publisher: Clarion Books (2018)

Ages: 4-7



Magic, libraries, story time, and folk tales.

Synopsis (from Barnes & Noble):

A visit to the library can be full of surprises. When the librarian is late for story time, the children go off to look for her and follow mysterious paw prints to find a bear sitting at her desk. Is the bear a new librarian? Not exactly. The new LiBEARian opens a book about bears and utters a loud growl. The kids love it! Then the real librarian appears and sends the bear back into the book he came from. A fun twist at the end rounds out this winsomely illustrated tale of a universal childhood experience—story time at the library—infused with magic.

Opening Lines:

It was almost story time.

The children were ready.

Dee couldn't wait.

"Isn't it time?" she asked.

But no one answered.

Why I like this book:

I love imaginative stories and magic. When the librarian is late for storytime, the children decide to find her. In delightful, brightly colored, digital illustrations, the children discover large paw prints and track them, through a galaxy, past an ocean, and across an airport.

Overturned honey and shredded books lead then to the "new" librarian nibbling on a fish cookbook. The children beg for a story, one they weren't usually allowed to hear - a scary story. He roars and growls, and stomps through a story.

When the slightly disheveled librarian arrives, after dealing with an erupting volcano (I love this aside!),she begins to read Goldilocks and the Three Bears. But when she opens the book, Baby Bear is missing. Despite the enormous honey paw prints dripping from the ceiling, the librarian calmly calls for Baby Bear to "come out now" as he's late for story time. Baby bear magically melds back into the story and everything seems back to normal. I adore Alex Will more's illustrations, especially the fantastical elements in this last scene.

This is a library I would have loved to visit (as a child and even now) and a storyteller (both librarian and author) who makes reading a magical experience. This is a tale sure to delight young children.


- visit your library's story time;

- match the magical aspects (beanstalk, cat w/boots, or alien etc) to their stories; or

- draw a picture or list who they would like to meet from a favorite story;

This post is part of a series by authors and KidLit bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture book suggestions see Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Books.

Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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