Scholastic Paperbacks, 1998. 978-0590386333
Synopsis: Mongoose, Brenda, Sonseray, and April have nothing in common until a little blue card makes its way into their pockets and changes their lives. This mysterious little card becomes their key to staying out of trouble, remember who they are, remember where they came from, and figure out where they are going. In these stories, these four tweens discover the possibilities and the magic that only a library can offer.
Why I picked it up: The title caught my eye while I was book hunting in a local used book store.
Why I finished it: I could wax poetic about the magic that a library card exposes us to, but it’s really something that must be experienced for oneself, much like Mongoose, Brenda, Sonseray, and April. Mongoose is a kid who is on the verge of becoming a vandal and dropping out of school when the little blue library card appears in his pocket. Brenda is having some serious withdrawals when her school institutes a TV Turn-Off when the blue library card appears on the floor of her room. Sonseray is an angry teen who resents his uncle and misses his dead mother when he picks up the library card on the street. April has just moved to a new home and gives her old library card to a new friend, causing it to transform into a new card for a new beginning. There are so many things that make this book special, but the two things that stuck out to me was the realism of the character’s socioeconomic status and the understanding of the librarians as they interact with these four patrons. It’s easy to pass off these kids as different, but by showing their differences and their struggles, Spinelli gives them room to grow, mature, and evolve into completely different people by the time their stories are concluded. The librarians are patient and seem to speak the fast-talking language of the tweens they come in contact with in each of the stories. Spinelli shows us that even the most modest things can evoke the greatest change in our lives and create new opportunities that we never thought were possible. So if you don’t have a library card, sign up for one and see what it can do for you.
Other related materials: Loser by Jerry Spinelli; Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli; Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli; Love, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli; Wringer by Jerry Spinelli; Jake and Lily by Jerry Spinelli; Smiles to Go by Jerry Spinelli; Frindle by Andrew Clements, illustrated by Brian Selznick; The Laundry News by Andrew Clements, illustrated by Brian Selznick and Salvatore Murdocca; The Janitor’s Boy by Andrew Clements, illustrated by Brian Selznick; The School Story by Andrew Clements, illustrated by Brian Selznick; The View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg; The Last Book in the Universe by Rodman Philbrick; Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo