Books & Literature

Book Review: The Lost Library, by Rebecca Stead and Wendy Mass

MIDDLE GRADE: The story of a little free library guarded by a cat and a boy who takes on the mystery it keeps.

A lovely story set around a new library and a lost library, for all those who love books.

Feature image credit: Text Publishing

New Yorker Rebecca Stead and Wendy Mass from New Jersey, have teamed up to write their second novel together. 

The Lost Library is set in the small town of Martinville, presumably somewhere in the United States of America. Evan and Rafe are just finishing fifth grade and heading off to middle school next year. One night a small library on a cart appears outside Martinville’s History House. And is it actually being guarded by an old orange cat? 

Evan decides to take two books from the library. When he gets home and opens them, he realises that both books seem to hold secrets which he is determined to discover.

Each chapter is narrated by either Mortimer the cat, Al the ghost librarian, or by Evan, clearly labelled under the chapter number to avoid confusion.

Evan is not looking forward to middle school. He is quite happy staying where he is for the rest of his life, with nothing changing. Rafe on the other hand, wants to move on so that he is able to do all the things his over protective parents have not allowed for his whole life. These are two friends who have each other’s back.

The front cover of the book is very appealing with its picture of the library cupboard and the cat sitting on top. Little nods to the story can also be found with the mice, the key, and the person in the window. It has also been embellished with gold to make it that little bit more special and magical.

The Lost Library is at first a little puzzling, trying to work out who is a ghost and who is not, but as the story continues, it becomes irrelevant and then made clear.

Evan’s dad is the local mouse catcher, but he doesn’t really have his heart in the job. He also spends a lot of time in the basement writing emails but always makes sure he has time to spend with Evan after school each day. His mum is the local tech support person and spends a lot of time with headphones on, sorting out everyone’s problems.

The Lost Library is refreshing in that most people are kind, with the exception of one grumpy old lady! Often bullies are part of a story when children are involved, but everyone mostly seems to accept each other for who they are in this small town.

The Lost Library a good length for the average middle-years reader, long enough to tell an interesting story, but not so long that is seems to take forever to read.

This is a book about books, and how they can change people’s lives. It is also about stories, and love, and secrets.

It is lovely to think about the different “rooms” that are created as the little library grows and it feels like something special is happening in this community.

The Lost Library would make a very nice present for any middle-years reader, but would also be a great class novel.

Reviewed by Sue Mauger

The views expressed in this review belong to the author and not Glam Adelaide, its affiliates, or employees.

Distributed by: Text Publishing
Released: October 2023
RRP: $16.99

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