The Lost Library (Jess McGeachin, Puffin)
This is unashamedly a story for every child (and adult) who loves books and reading—and it reaches out to encourage every reader to fit that description. Little Oliver and his new neighbour Rosie try to return a mysterious book to their local library and instead are transported into a ‘lost library’ underground: a world where every book’s story becomes a literal reality for children. They sail through a storm, navigate a pathless forest and defy a ‘Bookshelf Dragon’, while Rosie reminds us that solutions, answers, reassurance and inspiration can always be found in books (which, in this lost library, not only fill the shelves but often flutter in the air). Jess McGeachin’s words and illustrations are inseparable and take readers on a vivid journey with the protagonists. An added touch that really lifts this book to another level is the invitation on the concluding copyright page to go back and find a dragon in every spread. This challenge guarantees readers will fondly flip back and start the book all over again—undoubtably more than once. (While McGeachin’s illustration style is much more restrained, the task is reminiscent of the hunt for hidden mice in Graeme Base’s The Eleventh Hour.) I loved the search, which I found genuinely tricky.
Anica Boulanger-Mashberg is a freelance editor, writer and reviewer, and has worked as a bookseller at The Hobart Bookshop for over 10 years.