Gift Guide

Help! I'm a Prisoner in the Library


Mary Rose and Jo-Beth are sisters who hardly ever agree on anything, but they both feel as if this night will never end. First their car runs out of gas in an unfamiliar city and their father goes in search of a gas station. Then Jo-Beth makes Mary Rose go with her to find a bathroom and they stumble across a curious old library. And then, worst of all, they get locked in! But their troubles are just beginning. Is Jo-Beth right about the library being haunted by banshees? Or is ...

See more details below
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (27) from $1.99   
  • New (12) from $2.62   
  • Used (15) from $1.99   
Note: Kids' Club Eligible. See More Details.
Sending request ...


Mary Rose and Jo-Beth are sisters who hardly ever agree on anything, but they both feel as if this night will never end. First their car runs out of gas in an unfamiliar city and their father goes in search of a gas station. Then Jo-Beth makes Mary Rose go with her to find a bathroom and they stumble across a curious old library. And then, worst of all, they get locked in! But their troubles are just beginning. Is Jo-Beth right about the library being haunted by banshees? Or is there a logical explanation, as Mary Rose claims?

Two girls spend an adventurous night trapped inside the public library during a terrible blizzard.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Clifford's extraordinary talents as a writer who keeps the action and surprises coming underpin her new antic adventure, its many moods ably depicted in Hughes's 15 drawings." Publishers Weekly
Children's Literature
A new baby brother or sister is on the way, their dad's car has run out of gas, and a blizzard is in progress—Mary Rose and Jo-Beth wonder if the night could possibly get any worse. However, that is only the start of their adventures. This delightful novel tells the tale of two sisters, who manage to get locked in a rather unusual library. The two girls are opposites: Mary Rose is responsible and down to earth, while her younger sister Jo-Beth is pessimistic, dramatic, and extremely vocal. Odd noises and the appearance of strange statues unite them, as the girls begin to wonder if the library might be haunted. Especially enjoyable for all library and museum lovers, Clifford's novel is a wonderfully appealing mystery that is perfect for younger readers. Charming illustrations grace the occasional page, adding extra life to the story. The lively narration could also make this a fun title to read aloud in the classroom. 2004 (orig. 1979), Houghton Mifflin Company, Ages 8 to 10.
—Laura Ruttig
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780618494828
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 9/28/2004
  • Series: A Jo-Beth and Mary Rose Mystery Series
  • Edition description: None
  • Pages: 112
  • Sales rank: 125,142
  • Age range: 9 - 11 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 0.25 (d)

Meet the Author

Eth Clifford's best-known title, Help! I'm a Prisoner in the Library (1979), concerns a situation she would no doubt welcome. A passionate reader as a child, she became a dedicated author and editor with scores of her own titles on library shelves. Clifford was born on Christmas Day in New York City and moved several times as a child. She remembers learning to read in a one-room schoolhouse set in an apple orchard, and she discovered the public library when her family later moved to Philadelphia. At age sixteen, she met her future husband at a poetry reading in Brooklyn, and it was he who encouraged her to begin writing while he was stationed in the South Pacific during World War II. Clifford began with short stories and soon published her first adult novel, Go Fight City Hall (1949), which was a Reader's Digest Book of the Month and was excerpted in humor anthologies. Clifford, her husband, and their daughter later moved to Indiana, where they lived for twenty years. While there, Clifford contributed to many social studies, science, and language arts textbooks for children, and this work eventually developed into her primary interest—writing children's fiction. Clifford's books for children cover a wide range of ages and subject matter. Her youngest readers can match their sleuthing abilities against an animal detective in Flatfoot Fox and the Case of the Missing Eye (1990), handsomely illustrated by Brian Lies. Middle-grade readers enjoy Clifford's deft combination of suspense and humor in a mystery adventure series of five novels about Mary Rose and Jo-Beth Onetree, the sisters who were first introduced in Help! I'm a Prisoner in the Library, which won the 1982 Young Hoosier Award. Among the story's appealing elements are the believable relationship between the practical and responsible Mary Rose and her younger, very dramatic sister and the real sense of fear generated as the girls feel their way through the darkened rooms of the old mansion turned library. Subsequent adventures find the sisters sleuthing in such places as a ghost town and a shoe museum. All five books were illustrated by George Hughes. Clifford often incorporates interesting factual information into her humorous works. Children reading Harvey's Marvelous Monkey Mystery (1987) have an opportunity to learn about the companion monkeys who are trained to perform useful services for their physically challenged owners. In The Rocking Chair Rebellion (1978), a book for teens that includes contemporary problems, a young girl finds herself involved with the distresses of the elderly when she volunteers to work for the aged. This book was made into an "ABC Afterschool Special." Some of Clifford's books are written with a simplicity of style coupled with an emotional resonance that appeal to readers of all ages. The Remembering Box (1985) is a quiet and beautifully told story of the legacy that a Jewish grandmother gives her grandson and the understanding between them that allows the boy to accept her death. Clifford once called her ambition the desire to "rival Scheherazade and tell one thousand and one stories." She has succeeded in creating a readership that looks to her for a variety of books, all with strong characterization, sensitive treatment of relationships, authentic detail, and wonderful adventure.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

1. Last-Minute Harry 1
2. The Spooky Blue Lights 11
3. "Off With Their Heads" 22
4. The Awful Quiet Dark Emptiness 33
5. The Body on the Floor 42
6. We Weren't Dead 50
7. "Now's the Time to Chase the Squirrel" 59
8. When the Banshee Cries 70
9. "Madame Morgana Sees All and Knows All" 77
10. "Black the Boots and Make Them Shine" 85
11. Fireworks in the Snow 92
12. Last-Minute Harry to the Rescue 96
Afterword 105
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 12, 2006

    A Must Read Book

    HELP I¿M A PRISINER IN THE LIBRARY Over spring break I read an extraordinary book by Eth Clifford that you must read. This book was about two girls, Jo-Beth and Mary Rose. Mary Rose and Jo-Beth spend an adventurous night trapped inside of an old library with Miss.Finton, the librarian. This only happened because their car ran out of gas on their way to visit their Aunt Madge in Indianapolis. So their father went down the corner to get some gas. All of a sudden Jo-Beth had to go to the bathroom. When she could have gone with her father to the gas station. Then Mary Rose spotted a library and took Jo-Beth inside. The library was only open for five more minutes. They hurried in because they didn¿t have much time before the library closes. While Jo-Beth was going to the bathroom Mary Rose saw a kid hack which are school buses in the olden days. She was so interested in it that they got locked in because the library closed. Soon they figured out that Miss.Finton, the librarian lives there. Soon the librarian woke up and showed them around. Miss. Finton turned on the radio and heard that their father was lookind for them. A couple minutes later the cops arrived as well as their father in front of the library and everyone was safe. I thought this was the best book I have ever read! I liked this book because it was so interesting. It made me keep on reading.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 31, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)