Monday, August 17, 2020

Review - The Lady with the Books

The Lady with the Books
by Kathy Stinson
illustrated by Marie Lafrance
Date: 2020
Publisher: Kids Can Press
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 32
Format: e-book
Source: NetGalley

Inspired by true events, a fictionalized retelling of how one woman brought a world of books to children in Germany after World War II, and changed their lives forever.

Anneliese and Peter will never be the same after the war that took their father's life. One day, while wandering the ruined streets of Munich, the children follow a line of people entering a building, thinking there may be free food inside. Instead, they are delighted to discover a great hall filled with children's books --- more books than Anneliese can count. Here, they meet the lady with the books, who encourages the children to read as much as they want. And she invites them to come back the next day. Eventually, she will have a greater impact on the children's lives than they could ever have imagined.

This moving picture book, written by beloved and award-winning author Kathy Stinson, is based on the real-life work of Jella Lepman, founder of the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) and the International Youth Library. Lepman's collection of children's books from around the world traveled throughout Germany after World War II in the hope of building "bridges of understanding" between countries. Brought to life by highly acclaimed illustrator Marie Lafrance, this book carries an important message about international cooperation that still resonates with world events today. It includes further information about Lepman and her work as well as historical photos. This story of the children who survived the war offers a unique and often unexplored perspective for history lessons. It also makes an excellent choice for character education lessons on resilience. A portion of the author's royalties will be donated to IBBY's Children in Crisis Fund.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

The Lady with the Books is a fictionalized account of how Jella Lepman brought books to the children of war-ravaged Germany. It follows Annaliese and Peter, two young children who are struggling after the loss of their father. One day, they stand in what they think is a line for food, only to stumble into an exhibition of children's books.

The story itself is well written and the subject matter is fascinating. Of course, books like this often have a section of notes at the back, and this one is no exception. They're just as interesting as the main narrative, and I learned some interesting facts (including that there's a "Book Castle" in Blutenburg Castle; it's also known as the International Youth Library, and has the largest collection of children's literature in the world).

I would definitely recommend this book to those who love to read. It underscores the importance of having books to read... and being able to read them freely.

Thank you to NetGalley and Kids Can Press for providing a digital ARC.

Premise: 5/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 4/5
Illustrations: 3/5
Originality: 5/5

Enjoyment: 5/5

Overall: 4.5 out of 5

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