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The Picture Book Buzz

The Picture Book Buzz - The Night Library

I stumbled across this book at the 2019 ALA Midwinter Conference in Seattle. I couldn't wait until I found a "free" Friday to share this beautiful, touching book with you. So, I am doing an extra post for fun. Besides, the book released on April 2nd.

If you liked Renato and the Lion by Barbara DiLorenzo, where a lion statute, that a boy has protected from the Nazi's, springs to life and carried him safely home and The Book Without a Story by Carolina Rabei, where the anthropomorphized books spring into action to get a forgotten book in to the hands of a reluctant reader, have I got a gorgeous new picture book for you! It combines many of the elements that make these two books so special - the power of books and the magic of imagination.

The Night Library

Author: David Zeltser

Illustrator: Raul Colón

Publisher: Random House (2019)

Ages: 3-7



The magic of books, imagination, and libraries


The Polar Express meets The Night at the Museum in this fantastical picture-book adventure about the magic of books and libraries, perfect for book lovers of all ages! After a young boy goes to sleep upset that he's getting a book for his birthday, he's visited in the night by Patience and Fortitude, the two stone lions who guard the New York Public Library. Soon, he's magically whisked away from his cozy home in the Bronx, and the two mighty lions show him the wonder of the library. There, the inquisitive Latino boy discovers the power of books and their role not only in his own life, but also in the lives of the people he loves. Raul Colon's gorgeous, rich art creates an immersive world in this book about books, which is sure to capture the imaginations of kids and adults and inspire them to grab their library cards and dive into the worlds of stories.

Opening Lines:

It was the night before my eighth birthday, and I was having trouble falling asleep. A thick blanket of snow had silenced the streets outside. I could hear my parent's whispers in the hallway. I heard footprints approaching, and my door opened.

Why I LOVE this book:

I can see why they used the comps they did; it is written with a very soft, "once upon a time" voice that I associate with The Polar Express. But it really brings to my mind Renato and the Lion (with the interaction of the boy and the lion) and The Book Without a Story (books helping a reluctant reader gain/regain a love of reading).

A young reluctant reader, who would rather receive "toys, games, or movies--not books," (you could say he's lost his belief or faith in books, perhaps) wakes from a fitful sleep to discover a walking, talking lion statue in his yard.

Text © David Zeltser, 2019. Image © Raul Colón, 2019.

The lion whisks him off to meet Patience at the NY Public Library. In the grand hall a humming draws him to toward the bookshelves. But as Fortitude says, "Adult books can be difficult to grasp," as the books jittered, swayed, twirled, and skittered from him.

Text © David Zeltser, 2019. Image © Raul Colón, 2019.

In the children's section, he finds books reenacting the stories he remembers his grandpa reading him. When he tells Fortitude that he stopped reading, when his grandpa died, the books rearrange themselves into. . .

Text © David Zeltser, 2019. Image © Raul Colón, 2019.

his grandpa and him snuggled, reading books. Was it all a dream? You'll have to get the book and check out the ending!

Colón's gorgeous, softly muted illustrations create a whimsical and joyful atmosphere that pairs beautifully with Zeltser's magical, dream-like story. A perfect book to encourage visits to the library and open a discussion on celebrating the things we loved doing with lost ones.


- talk about or draw a picture of things you liked to do with someone who is gone;

- take a trip your local library OR if you're lucky, the New York Public library (and visit Patience and Fortitude);

- read Lost in the Library by Josh Funk. How do the lions and library compare between the books? ; or

- write or draw a story about what you think Fortitude and Patience do when no one is watching.

Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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