The Return of the Library Dragon is just what book lovers need in this weird era when we’re being told the traditional format book is going to disappear any minute now. Eighteen years after their fantastic collaboration, The Library Dragon, the crack team of author Carmen Agra Deedy and illustrator Michael P. White have returned with a very timely book.
The text of the story is preceded by a news article. “LIBRARIAN RETIRES: Time Has Come to Turn Page Says Miss Lotty.” Miss Lotta Scales is the lady who twenty years before was an actual dragon keeping kids from touching the books until she found how wrong she was and became a beloved school librarian and human.
But as Miss Scales heads off to retirement, she is oblivious to a delivery truck heading toward the library. A boy named Milo tells Miss Scales the awful thing that has happened.
“They’re all g-g-gone!” he says.
That’s right, every book is gone, taken by Central Office. They’ve sent a guy who says he’s IT, by the name of Mike Krochip.
Mike is going to make us feel better. “’It’s better than a library,’ chirps Mike Krochip. ‘It’s Media World! The new Sunrise Cybrary!’”
You can imagine that Lotty Scales is feeling warm, even if she is still looking human.
The author gives us lots of great groaners. Krochip with a huge grin explains that “Books stain and tear and take up room. Check out the Book-Be-Gone 5000. It’ll kindle your fire!”
Young Milo tries to set him straight. “Pardon me, mister. We’d like our books back, um, please.” The rest of the kids are standing behind him, backing him up.
Mike Krochip’s brain is short-circuiting. “You want them back? But why, when you could have 10,000 books in one handy little-“
Milo interrupts him. “Ten thousand books on a screen all look the same.”
Then seven kids each embracing a real, actual book give their pithy arguments, including:
-Ten thousand books in a library all look and feel different.
-All I need to upload a book is my brain.
-The only way my book can get a virus is if I sneeze on it.
-And books smell! My favorite book smells like spaghetti.
But Krochip tells them, “Give me a month. These kids won’t remember what a book looks like!”
Now the library dragon comes out of retirement. She roars, “You bring back every last library book or I’ll melt your motherboard!”
Just as all the dragon fire sends people stampeding out of the library, the new young librarian appears. And it’s Molly Brickmeyer. The little hero from the first book is now an adult ready to lead the Sunrise Elementary Library.
Molly is there to clean up this mess. “I love technology too,” she says, “But our kids need a library where they can UNPLUG, for the love of books.” In fact at the thought of a children’s “cybrary”, Molly’s ears begin to smoke and you can see one finger turning into a sharp green claw.
Long live books! I hope people will read and love Return of the Library Dragon. Back at School 80 in 1977, our school librarian called herself the media specialist and wanted us to call the library the “media center”. As much as technology has changed, I hope our children’s children will still read book books.