Nancy Pearl once traveled in the backseat of our car to a conference in the northern Wisconsin woods. Several years later, she introduced us to Karen Henry Clark, who had just moved to Minnesota. Nancy and Karen met working in a bookstore in Oklahoma.
I was eagerly waiting for this book, Library Girl: How Nancy Pearl Became America’s Most Celebrated Librarian.
I wasn’t prepared to fall in love with this book, which I most definitely have.
A bright palette lifts the reader’s mood toward joy, contrasting well with the white chalk outlines that depict young Nancy’s imagination. Illustrator Sheryl Murray draws Nancy’s expressive eyes in such an engaging way that we are rooting for her. Period details like saddle shoes, milk trucks, and Nancy’s bike Charger set the time period. The imaginary Charger, Nancy’s horse, makes me feel five years old again. I want a ride on that horse!
When books show young Nancy “I can be anything when I grow up,” my heart melted. Yes! This is what books do. They make everything seem possible.
Karen Henry Clark’s spare but descriptive text tells Nancy’s story with conviction. As always with Ms. Clark, word choice is spot on.
The tension in the book occurs when the two librarians at Francis Parkman Branch Library in Detroit, Michigan, ask Nancy to give a booktalk to other young readers.
“Brave was never how she felt around other kids.” Have you or your young ones felt that way? I certainly did.
This is a book for all of us: the library lovers, the horse lovers, the readers, the shy ones. Dream big.