Help! I’m a Prisoner in the Library Review

help-im-a-prisoner-2Help! I’m a Prisoner in the Library by Eth Clifford, illustrations by George Hughes

HMH Books for Young Readers, 2004. 978-0618494828

Synopsis: When their father’s car runs out of gas on the way to visit their aunt, Mary Rose and Jo-Beth knew it was going to be a long night. But when they get trapped in a library after they go in to use the bathroom, all they want is for the night to come to an end. For one thing, the library is in a super old mansion. Plus, after the lights go out from a storm, the girls must investigate the strange noises coming from upstairs. Are they trapped or can they find the librarian to let them out?

Why I picked it up: I love a good library story and this one had a particularly unique mystery element.

Why I finished it: To be honest, I don’t know what I would do if I was trapped in a library all night (actually, that’ a lie – I would build a castle out of the non-fiction books and then find a nice corner in which to read), but I can imagine that it would be a little bit scary – especially if the building is older. But Mary Rose and Jo-Beth discover that they are much braver than they think they are as the night goes on. They must contend with life-like dolls that seem even more creepy in the darkness, a large mynah bird that asks them pointless questions, a cranky librarian, and a mysterious howl that is coming from the basement. The relationship of the sisters really comes across on the pages: they love each other, but the younger wishes she wouldn’t get bossed around so much and the older wishes her younger sister would just listen to her. Clifford’s imaginary children’s library actually sounds like it would be a cool place to visit, and there are a number of children’s museums around the country that house so many of the displays that Mary Rose and Jo-Beth encounter in the library. It’s a cute book about two sisters overcoming their differences, if only for a little while, and learning to appreciate each other’s strengths.

Other related materials: Just Tell Me When We’re Dead by Eth Clifford; Who Stole the Wizard of Oz? by Avi; Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein; The Library Card by Jerry Spinelli; Here Lies the Librarian by Richard Peck; Bookspeak!: Poems about Books by Laura Purdie Salas; Mr. Crumb’s Secret: A Fribble Mouse Library Mystery by Phyllis J. Perry; The Library Pages by Carlene Morton, illustrated by Valeria Docampo; Young Cam Jansen and the Library Mystery (Young Cam Jansen, Book 7) by David A. Adler, illustrated by Susanna Natti; Library Mouse books by Daniel Kirk; Encyclopedia Brown books by Donald J Sobol; From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg; The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks; Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien, illustrated by Zena Bernstein; The Grimm Legacy by Polly Schulman; George’s Marvelous Medicine by Roald Dahl, illustrated by Quentin Blake


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