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Friday, August 29, 2014

Short Stories from the author of Stargirl

Spinelli, Jerry (1997) The Library Card.  New York:  Scholastic

Three kids:  Mongoose, Brenda, Sonseray, and April.  All of them find a magical blue library card that changes their lives.  Mongoose and his friend Weasel sneak out at night and tag buildings with spray paint.  When Mongoose finds the library card, he becomes more and more interested in what books hold.  Brenda is hooked on TV, and goes into withdrawal when her school has a TV Turn-Off Weekend, Brenda's parents agree to participate, then she finds the card.  Sonseray and his nephew Jack are homeless and living in a car, scraping together enough money to eat.  The library card offers them a chance to connect with memories of their lost family.  And April boards a bookmobile only to find it is being hijacked. 
     Jerry Spinelli sees the world differently than I do, and it is a great gift of his writing that, when I read his work, I can see through his eyes.  Stargirl was the first book of his I read and it helped me to see high school in a new way (even though I had been teaching high school for ten years when I first read it).  In The Library Card, Spinelli lets himself run free for a while.  It reminds me, in a way of watching Robin Williams perform live.  Spinelli's imagination seems unbounded by any kind of control -- which allows him to tell stories about someone hijacking a bookmobile in a way that also says a lot about relationships between different aged kids.  The weird thing about it all, it seems to me, is that while I am reading through all these twists and turns, they never seem unnatural (until I try to summarize it).
      This seems like a middle school book to me.  Young readers will want to know that there is very little connecting the separate short stories.  They really should be taken on their own.  Not much objectionable here.  This book is certainly worth a look -- especially for Spinelli fans. 

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