Leilong the Library Bus by Julia Liu, illustrated by Bei Lynn

  Leilong the Library Bus by Julia Liu, illustrated by Bei Lynn, translated by Helen Wang, Gecko Press, 9781776573318, 2021 

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4

Format: Hardcover

Genre: Picture book

What did you like about the book?  Leilong the brontosaurus desperately wants to go to the library with his friends Maggie, Max, and Mo. They ride the giant beast through a crowded cityscape, dotted with palm trees (Christchurch?) and explain the library rules: no running, be calm, get a library card, don’t scare the librarian…But Leilong’s giant size makes it impossible for him to follow their advice and in his excitement, he tries to push his way in, causing a mini-earthquake that sends books tumbling to the floor. He feels downcast until the manager comes up with a solution: Leilong will be a bookmobile! Adorned with hanging saddlebags, ingeniously slit to display the books, Leilong brings joy to every corner of the city. The illustrations are lovely and have a retro look that resembles old-fashioned stone lithography. Using mostly green, a steely blue and a washed-out rose, Lynn has created absorbing images with lots of detail and humor (Maggie trying to shove Leilong’s giant behind into the library, or all the children leaving storytime by sliding down the dinosaur’s back.) All the characters in the book have the same color skin — the creamy white of the paper, with their facial features sketched in scribbly black. This is a sweet adventure that celebrates dinosaurs and imagination.

Anything you didn’t like about it? No

To whom would you recommend this book?  Stories about libraries are catnip for librarians and this book is charming. This would be a good fit for children ages 3-6. The book recalls Library Lion (2009) by Michelle Knudsen, although it doesn’t have the nuance, taut plot or accomplished character development of that classic. Still it could be a useful starter for a discussion about how to behave in the library.

Who should buy this book? Elementary or public libraries

Where would you shelve it? Picture books

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No

Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA

Date of review: May 11, 2021

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