The Story Collector
Written by Kristin O’Donnell Tub
Is there anything more amazing than visiting your local library? How about living in a library? I suppose that not every kid has a fantasy to live in a library 24/7, but I sure did. I couldn’t of course, I came as close as I could. Throughout my school days, I spent as much time in the campus libraries as I could. I was in city libraries daily during breaks and as an adult, I am delighted that my child walks to his local branch near daily (mostly to get books for me) and jumps at the chance to visit the main branch every chance he gets. As I read the antics that Viviana and her tribe get up to in The Story Collector, I could see a group of kids just like them getting into that kind of mischief at our wonderful library. Amazing as our library is, it pales next to the New York Public Library, the true star of this book, brought to life beautifully by the author. It was so easy to envision it in its prime when strict librarians and card catalogs ruled with an iron grip. This book was a true adventure.
An adventure is what Viviana is desperate for, just like the ones she reads in the books all around her. Her father is the building super at the New York City Library, during the 1920’s, so she and her family actually live in the library, all those stories at her fingertips and the whole of the building is a playground for her and her siblings, as long as they can avoid disturbing the librarians, evade the security guard, and keep clear of the janitor, who may or may not be a cannibal. Oh yeah, they also have to keep away from Big Red, the ghost that haunts the library. While she is waiting to find adventure, she collects stories and shares them her friends at school. However, a new student in her class isn’t impressed with Viviana’s stories and an attempt to sway her opinion with an overnight ghost hunt backfires its way into a mystery that only the children may be able to solve.
Well written and imaginative, with just the perfect touch of mystery, this book is a must-have for middle-grade readers. That it has a basis in actual history makes it all the more fun.