Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A library card prominently features in four short stories; "Spinelli's spare writing and careful pacing reinforce the dramatic nature of events as they unfold," said PW. Ages 8-14. (Sept.)
VOYA - Kitty Krahnke
Great news! Spinelli, a master storyteller, has done it again-with wit, an intuitive sense of character, and the knack to take the strange twists in life and make a great story. This book includes four stories tied together by the appearance of a mysterious blank blue card, which the character in each story thinks is and uses as a library card. Each of the four lives is altered because of this card. There is Mongoose (his tag name) who develops a passion for wacky facts after discovering the library and checking out the book I Wonder. Brenda, a TV addict, has excruciating withdrawal during the "Great TV Turn-off," until the blue card comes into her life. Sonsaray, a homeless, motherless, angry young man falls into a children's storytime and has his life changed. And there is April, who after living in New York and using its finest libraries, moves to the farm lands of Pennsylvania and flags down a very unusual bookmobile. The stories are witty and fun, yet they relate some powerful and complicated lives. Spinelli weaves their tales so well that in the short span of each story we know these characters and care for them. Teens will fall for the tales because they are bizarre and are filled with wit, humor, and a touch of suspense. A bonus for librarians is the fantastic image of our profession: the gentle, caring, and intuitive librarians in the book. VOYA Codes: 5Q 5P M J (Hard to imagine it being any better written, Every YA (who reads) was dying to read it yesterday, Middle School-defined as grades 6 to 8 and Junior High-defined as grades 7 to 9).
Children's Literature - Mary Sue Preissner
With the common denominator being a library card, Spinelli presents four very different stories of some particularly interesting adolescents. Mongoose and Weasel's favorite recreational activity is to rob the mini-mart of snack cakes, until Mongoose discovers that another building in town offers more excitement. While struggling to cope with turn-off-your-TV week, Brenda not only survives this harrowing ordeal, but her parents find the child they lost to puberty. Homeless Sonseray finds that story time and an old book can reunite him with his long-dead mother. In escaping the stench of her family's new mushroom farm, April Mendez runs into the Bookmobile and discovers a lifetime friendship. Spinelli has created stories that touch both the heart and funny bone.
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 4-8These four stories feature different characters, styles, and moods, but each plot hinges upon a library card. In "Mongoose," the strongest story, two 12-year-old boys become partners in crime and rebellion. Weasel convinces Mongoose to shoplift and spray graffiti, but when Mongoose enters a library for the first time and is mesmerized by a book of unusual facts, the friendship begins to unravel. The point of view shifts from Mongoose to Weasel halfway through, neatly accentuating their different outlooks. "Brenda" is a television addict trying to survive the Great TV Turn-Off. The satire is obvious but the humor is still sharp and insightful. "Sonseray" is a troubled homeless teen, tortured by memories of his mother. His library card brings him to a preschool storytime and the storyteller is mysteriously compelled to read an adult romance novel to Sonseray: the same book the boy's mother repeatedly read to him as a child. When he checks it out, he regains some of the precious memories he has yearned for. "April Mendez" gets picked up by a bookmobile, where she meets an older girl who claims to be hijacking the vehicle. April befriends the girl and gives her a library card as a farewell present. In this story, the friendship and trust between the two develops without the card. Taking all four tales together, the device seems a bit forced and artificial, rather than a unifying element. Though not completely satisfying as a collection, Spinelli's unique characters and lively wit will interest many readers.Steven Engelfried, West Linn Public Library, OR
Spinelli (The Bathwater Gang Gets Down to Business, 1992, etc.) has spun four disparate stories linked through the inanimate object that appears in eacha library card.
As is true of the omniscient librarian who appears in some of the stories, the library card is supernatural. It imposes itself first on Mongoose, or Jamie, who with his 12-year-old friend shoplifts candy and makes mischief until he is pulled into an intoxicating world of learning. In "Brenda," broadly comic events occur when a TV-crazy teen has the plug pulled for a week. After such desperate moments as when she puts the rabbit ears of an absent television into her mouth, hoping to pick up signals, she begins to catch up on her life. In "Sonseray," a homeless drifter pays back his mean and lonely nephew by withholding details of the boy's dead mother, an unusual and powerful piece of cruelty. The last story shows two unlikely friends making a match. The realistic characters are funny and profound at times, and the prose occasionally invites readers to linger over a description. Spinelli is a shrewd storyteller, balancing lighter moments with provocative ones to meaningful effect.