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The Lonely Book

The Lonely Book

4.6 5
by Kate Bernheimer, Chris Sheban (Illustrator)

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When a wonderful new book arrives at the library, at first it is loved by all, checked out constantly, and rarely spends a night on the library shelf. But over time it grows old and worn, and the children lose interest in its story. The book is sent to the library's basement where the other faded books live. How it eventually finds an honored place on a little girl


When a wonderful new book arrives at the library, at first it is loved by all, checked out constantly, and rarely spends a night on the library shelf. But over time it grows old and worn, and the children lose interest in its story. The book is sent to the library's basement where the other faded books live. How it eventually finds an honored place on a little girl's bookshelf—and in her heart—makes for an unforgettable story sure to enchant anyone who has ever cherished a book. Kate Bernheimer and Chris Sheban have teamed up to create a picture book that promises to be loved every bit as much as the lonely book itself.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Sheban’s (A Night on the Range) moody light and deep shadows haunt this tale of a library book that, like the Velveteen Rabbit, waits a long, long time for an “always-and-forever home.” The book’s cover bears “a picture of a girl in the forest under a toadstool,” and a girl named Alice falls in love with the book, loses it, then finds it again. The nameless book expresses emotion quietly but definitively: “If someone had looked closely at the lonely book’s cover, they would have seen that the girl under the toadstool had started to cry.” Bernheimer (The Girl in the Castle Inside the Museum) carefully calibrates the story’s tension to draw readers in, switching between viewpoints; at the moment Alice realizes she’s forgotten to renew the cherished book she’s taken to the library, readers see the book waiting in the basement with other book sale books, “lonelier than it had ever been.” It’s a book about books, but more particularly a book about library culture; readers who make faithful weekly trips to their own libraries will be especially charmed. Ages 4–8. Agent: Maria Massie, Lippincott Massie McQuilkin. Illustrator’s agent: Emily Inman. (Apr.)
Kirkus Reviews
Subtle personification imbues the titular lonely book with longing for a child to read its story. Initially, the book is not lonely at all. Indeed, it's quite popular with library patrons, until it becomes tattered with use and is finally forgotten on the shelves among the other, newer titles. Then, a girl discovers the book, and even though it is missing its last page, she delights in the story and pictures about a little fairy living under a toadstool. She checks it out and enjoys reading it with her father and sharing it at school. Unfortunately, she forgets to renew it when she returns to the library and mistakenly leaves it on the floor. A parenthetical plot twist has a volunteer put the book in the library's book sale. In a happily-ever-after ending befitting the text's nostalgic tone, girl and book are reunited at the book sale and she takes it home. Throughout, Sheban's soft watercolor illustrations present a warm, cozy depiction of the child's communion with her cherished book. A lovely story in its own right, this picture book may make readers clamor for the story within the story about the little fairy living under her toadstool. (Picture book. 4-7)
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
The lengthy story begins with the arrival of a brand new book at the library. Many children want to read the book about a girl in the forest, even when it is no longer new. But after many years, it is shabby, the last page is missing, and despite it still being an enchanting story, it is rarely read. It becomes lonely, dropped in a dark corner. But a little girl named Alice finds it and wants to take it home. The book is happy, being read. Alice even takes it to school. But at a special library event, she forgets to renew it and leaves it there. By the time Alice gets back to the library, a volunteer has moved it to the basement. The book misses Alice and she misses the book. Fortunately, there is a happy ending. Liberal use of graphite produces a somewhat dreamy look as it dulls the watercolors and colored pencils. They combine to created realistic scenes of children and books. Alice is a spirited, book-loving youngster who seems to age even more than the nameless book, which is another character in the story. The inevitable reunion is pictured with sensitivity: the tearful girl hugging the rain-soaked book. In tribute to the power of the book, the final double page scene depicts the flying fairies and magic mushroom of Alice's imagined ending. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
Pre S-Gr 2—This sweetly sentimental tale centers around a beloved library book ("It was green with a yellow ribbon inside to mark its pages"). As the years go by, it becomes tattered and loses a leaf, and fewer and fewer children check it out. A girl named Alice loves the book and takes it home, but when she forgets to renew it, it is relegated to storage in the library basement. At last it's time for the big book sale, and the book is reunited with the child and taken to its "always-and-forever home." Sheban's glowing watercolors perfectly capture the quietly magical hardwood-and-sunshine feel of a classic public library. This understated story will resonate with any child who knows that a book can become a dear friend.—Kathleen Kelly MacMillan, Carroll County Public Library, MD

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
9.20(w) x 10.90(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

KATE BERNHEIMER is the author of the picture book The Girl in the Castle Inside the Museum, a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year. Her most recent book for adults are Horse, Flower, Bird, a collection of stories, and The Complete Tales of Lucy Gold, the third novel in a fairy-tale trilogy. A fairy tale expert, she is the editor of My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me; Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Women Writers Explore Their Favorite Fairy Tales; and Brothers and Beasts: An Anthology of Men in Fairy Tales. She is currently a professor of English at the University of Louisiana in Lafayette. Visit her at KateBernheimer.com.

CHRIS SHEBAN is best-known for his luminous jacket art for Kate DiCamillo's acclaimed novel, Because of Winn Dixie.  He is also the illustrator of many picture books, including Catching the Moon by the bestselling novelist of Bee Season, Myla Goldberg, and A Night on the Range by Aaron Frisch. He's been awarded three Gold and three Silver Medals from the Society of Illustrators. Visit him at ChrisSheban.com.

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The Lonely Book 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
SleepDreamWrite More than 1 year ago
When browsing the shelves at the library or a bookstore, when I was little and now as an adult, I sometimes wonder, what some of the books are like, having heard of them or haven't heard of them. And of course if they've been checked out or read or bought. With this book, it got me thinking about that while reading. Plus there's just something about walking and looking at the spines and reading the different titles and authors that you probably heard or not heard of and wonder if their books are any good or not. A kind of mystery to it I guess. Or maybe I just love books. Right sorry, went to book land there. With this one, you kind of like and feel for the lonely book. A quick read but it has different emotions within the story. Well done. And good ending.
Storywraps More than 1 year ago
Do books have feelings?  Do they have a pulse or a message they deliver in a soft whisper to your mind and heart? I think they definitely do.  Were you ever browsing in the library or your local bookstore,  sorting through titles, when one shouts to you, "Pick me!" You need to hear what I have to say right now about what is happening in your life's journey."  I bet you have.  This fabulous little book will tickle a book-lovers ears. The illustrations are soft and muted and beautiful to behold.  Much of the setting of this lyrical narrative transpires inside a library with new books arriving daily ... "The library was busy every day with children looking for books about everything in the world, and the moss-green book about the girl in the forest was often chosen and taken home. Whenever the book was returned, it was placed on the shelf where the newest books lived.  There was a long list of children waiting for the book, and it hardly ever slept at the library." After many encounters with eager new children wanting to read "the book" eventually the well-loved book became worn and tattered looking and less in demand and then.....completely forgotten.   "Dropped in a dark corner by a daydreaming child, and not even the librarian found it." Until a dark-haired girl discovered it, rescued it from obscurity, brought it home, and enjoyed its soft whisperings." Alice accidentally left the precious book at the library, and try as she might both she and the kind librarian assistant could not locate her favourite book.  Then one day.....no....not spoiling ..... You will have to check out the book and find out for yourself.  Did Alice finally find her book?  Where had it been living?  All these are good questions that need answering dear reader.  I know you will be very happy with the ending as all stories should have a happy ending (in my opinion) and everyone should live happily ever after, even if you are a  lonely book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a beautiful delight!
romancemistress More than 1 year ago
I hate to say that this book is just precious because that sounds, well, just too precious for words...but it is in the sense of being a found gem. Beautiful in both illustration and words, it tells the story of a book that is loved by many over the years, but then forgotten only to be reclaimed later by a young girl who loved and remembered it. I'm sharing it at our B&N storytime this week...hopefully it will inspire my little listeners and other readers to recall their favorite childhood books.
MahMah More than 1 year ago
Illustrations are beautiful and dreamlike and fill most of the 34 large size pages. The story is sparse, but there enough words to capture the imagination and heart of young children who love to be read to or who have already begun the 'reading-by-myself' stage. My four year old grandson, soon to be five, wanted it read to him over and over.