I went to Paris, and I visited the Red Wheelbarrow Bookstore there. I met Penelope, the shop owner, and had a lovely chat with her.
"I'm a retired children's librarian," I told her.
"I have just the book for you," she said, and she brought me The Librarian by Salley Vickers.
Of course I had to buy it, and read it, and I tell you now that it was a perfect recommendation.
The Librarian is the story of Sylvia Blackwell who arrives in East Mole in 1958 to become the children's librarian of a run-down library. Sylvia is enthusiastic about reading, and, despite wall after wall thrown up to thwart her---a small-minded boss, town gossip, and more---Sylvia gradually begins to make a difference in the town, book-talking her favorite stories with others, teaming up with school teachers to bring children to the library, helping children find the books they love to read. The Librarian is a story for all librarians who want to share their love of books with others, who know the power of books to change lives. One of my favorite parts is where Sylvia talks about why she loves to read children's books.
"I still read children's books, mostly. I, I suppose I just prefer them."
"Why? I mean, why do you prefer them?"
Never having articulated this to anyone, Sylvia looked down at the book she'd been reading. It was a strange book, one Mrs. Jenkins had introduced her to, but it was a strangeness that had spoken to something deep inside her and it had become an old friend.
"Maybe," she said hesitantly, "maybe it's because children's authors can write about magic, other worlds, and be taken seriously. I mean, suggest that somewhere, even if it's hidden, there's another reality as real as the everyday world we take for granted that enlarges our sense of ordinary reality, gives it more meaning, if you see what I mean."I do. I do see what you mean. Thank you, Sylvia of The Librarian. Thank you, Penelope of The Red Wheelbarrow.