Saturday, February 21, 2009

Here Lies the Librarian

Peewee (Eleanor) is a fourteen-year-old girl growing up in Indiana in 1914. She lives with her big brother and helps him out in their gas station/auto repair shop. The story opens as a tornado whips through town, and when they emerge from their shelter, they find that the tornado has touched down in the cemetery, unearthing graves and depositing bodies in trees.

The tornado damage is reported in a local newspaper, which mentions that the library - closed since the death of the town's only librarian - was damaged as well. The newspaper article comes to the notice of several library school students, three wealthy young women, all friends, who drive fancy cars, wear lovely, fashionable clothes, and decide that working at the small-town library will be just thing to give them real-world library experience.

One of the librarians takes an interest in Peewee, inviting her to help in the library (she'd been banned from there by the grumpy old librarian back before it closed), and Peewee is drawn to her and the library in spite of herself. She's a bit suspicious, asking if she's trying to turn her into a librarian. But she is told that no one can turn Peewee into anything except Peewee herself. And that is a concept that is carried through the book.

Out-of-control car races, savage bullies, bodies in trees, quirky characters, library tea parties, courtroom dramas - this book has it all. It offers a clear picture of life in small-town Indiana in the years before World War I. Peewee is a sympathetic character who may be a bit too stubborn for her own good, but she has a good heart and a quick mind, and it was an enjoyable experience to follow her life as she grows into the kind of person she decides to be. Her voice carries the narrative with humor and passion, and as read by Lara Everly the audio book was a gripping and enjoyable tale.

Here Lies the Librarian by Richard Peck; narrated by Lara Everly (Listening Library, 2006)

Also reviewed at:
Book Bits: "This is an entertaining story about small town life and the beginning of automobile racing, with a sideline in libraries and librarians as well as women's rights.
The Magic of Books: "Although the main character is a girl of 14 on the verge of "growing up", it has a number of appealing aspects that boys would enjoy. Some of these include the obvious racing, mechanics, car manufacturing, and outsmarting bullies."
Reader Monkey: "The ending was fairly predictable, although the description of the final race is fast-paced and the details make it fun to read."


  1. You had me at "librarian" ;)

  2. Lol, weird! I just picked up A Long Way From Chicago :) It will be my first book by Peck.

  3. I've been telling myself I should go back and read some more of his books. I read all his books when I was a kid but haven't read anything, shall we say, from recent times.

    I loved him, both him and Robert Newton Peck. I discovered one because of the other as they were right beside each other on my school library shelves and the librarian would often misshelf their books together.

  4. Nymeth - I think you would enjoy this one (I know I always say that, but it's true!).

    Ladytink - I haven't read that one - I'll be curious to hear how you like it. The first one I read (when I was a kid) was The Ghost Belonged to Me, and I remember liking it, but beyond that I can't remember much about it at all. Sounds like a reread of that one is due!

    Nicola - I'll be looking forward to reading about your reread experience!

  5. The Ghost Belonged to Me is the one that was made into a Disney TV movie called Child of Glass. I'll probably read it before too much longer!

  6. Really? I've never even heard of it. Was it good? I think I need to go put it in my Netflix queue. Thanks for the tip!

  7. I just learned of it myself. It was a TV movie for the show Disneyland in the 70's I think.

    Have you reviewed The Witches by Roald Dahl here? If so, I'd love you to come and leave your link to it when you get the chance :)

  8. Ladytink - I'll be curious to see that movie! I have reviewed The Witches - I'll stop by with the link. Thanks!


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