This Book Is Not for You! by Shannon Hale, illustrated by Tracy Subisak (Dial Books, 2022)I got a chuckle out of This Book Is Not for You! I will never forget my first trip to the school library in second grade. I had my heart set on a book called “The Amiable Giant,” with appealing illustrations and a cool new word in the title. But I was handed a lesser, completely forgettable book instead. In Shannon Hale’s book, Stanley knows just the book he wants, but the bookmobile driver believes his own recommendations are the best, with very funny results. Both stories have a happy ending, because books are best when you get to choose them yourself!

This Book Is Not for You! by Shannon Hale, illustrated by Tracy Subisak (Dial Books, 2022) Ages 3-7. 

Everything in Its Place by Pauline David-Sax, illustrated by Charnelle Pinkney Barlow (Doubleday, 2022)Nicky is a shy child who finds refuge in the library, where she likes to find Everything in Its Place. She likes that the science books are always found in the 500s and the biographies in the 920s, just as on the playground the jump-roping kids have their own section and the soccer-playing kids have the field. Order reigns. In her mother’s café, Nicky encounters a cheerful sisterhood on motorcycles, whose members are different colors, shapes, and sizes, but who are united by a shared love of Mama’s pecan pie. Nicky learns from them that risk-taking can be a good thing, and that friendship awaits beyond the comfort zone of the Dewey decimal system.

Everything in Its Place by Pauline David-Sax, illustrated by Charnelle Pinkney Barlow (Doubleday, 2022) Ages 6-9. 

Digging for Words: Jose Alberto Gutierrez and the Library He Built by Angela Burke Kunkel, illustrated by Paola Escobar (Schwartz and Wade, 2020)Jose Alberto Gutierrez is a garbage collector in Bogota, Colombia who finds treasure during his nightly route. He collects trash, but he also collects books of all kinds—picture books for children, Russian novels, and do-it-yourself manuals. Jose Alberto cleans the books and stacks them neatly in a room in his home, and all are welcome to come and read and borrow. There is something for everyone in Jose Alberto’s library, especially for his biggest fan, another José who visits every Saturday. Digging for Words: Jose Alberto Gutierrez and the Library He Built is the story of a real-life hero, whose many efforts now include a foundation that provides reading materials to schools.

Digging for Words: Jose Alberto Gutierrez and the Library He Built by Angela Burke Kunkel, illustrated by Paola Escobar (Schwartz and Wade, 2020) Ages 6-9.

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Stanley’s Library by William Bee (Peachtree Publishing, 2021)Stanley the Hamster is another bookmobile driver, one who knows his rodent customers well. Stanley’s Library appears to have an extensive collection of books about cheese, as well as a shelf of horror stories about cats, snakes, and owls. Very young booklovers will enjoy the bright and clever digital illustrations of a day in the life of a librarian who loves to read.

Stanley’s Library by William Bee (Peachtree Publishing, 2021) Ages 2-5.

I’ll Build You a Bookcase series by Jean Ciborowski Fahey, illustrated by Simone Shin (Lee and Low, 2021)I’ll Build You a Bookcase is a sweet bilingual series in English with Vietnamese, Arabic, and Spanish versions. A diverse group of family and friends pitch in to build ever-expanding, age-appropriate shelves of books for a lucky child, starting with a shoebox full of board books for a baby, and then moving on to a little library in a park, where all can share. The books end with suggestions for reading with children, for parents who may be new readers themselves.

I’ll Build You a Bookcase series by Jean Ciborowski Fahey, illustrated by Simone Shin (Lee and Low, 2021) Ages 3-6.

The Librarian’s Stories by Lucy Falcone, illustrated by Anna Wilson (POW!, 2020)As a boy blows out his birthday candles and makes a wish, his city is bombed, and his beloved library is destroyed. Water and food are scarce and fear is rampant, but day by day the local librarian sits on a bench in the town square and reads aloud to all who want to hear. The Librarian’s Stories carry the boy and his friends back to the way things were before and give them hope. Lucy Falcone’s beautiful book is inspired by a story from the Bosnian war, and Anna Wilson’s illustrations of a dark city inhabited by brightly clothed, optimistic people are perfect.

The Librarian’s Stories by Lucy Falcone, illustrated by Anna Wilson (POW!, 2020) Ages 6-9.

Goodbye, Old House by Margaret Wild, illustrated by Ann James (Blue Dot Kids Press, 2021)Sam is moving from the country to the city. There are last times in the old house, and first times in the new house. There is an ending, but also a beginning—new opportunities, new scenery, new friends. Goodbye, Old House is a spare, beautiful story about moving on, wherever we are.

Goodbye, Old House by Margaret Wild, illustrated by Ann James (Blue Dot Kids Press, 2021) All ages.

Jean Dugan, a long-time friend of Exchange, has been connecting kids with books for over 40 years. She helped establish a library program in the ­elementary schools of Gloucester, Massachusetts, and later brought her love of children's ­literature to the public library there. This is her final column for Exchange, and we thank her for years of wonderful ideas and friendship.

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