Once in a while, while pulling books to fill holds at the library, I stumble across a book I need to read. Jerry Spinelli's juvenile paperback, The Library Card, was one of those books.
There are four stories in this book, and the only thing that ties them together is a blue library card. Well, there is one other thing. Each story features a twelve-year-old who is lost in their own world. Mongoose and his friend Weasel are running the streets, stealing sweets, selling them for paint to spray graffiti. When Mongoose finds a library card, he's haunted by it until it leads him to a book called I Wonder. And, in wondering, Mongoose's whole world changes.
There's Brenda, who finds out she doesn't have an identity during the week of The Great TV Turn-Off. And, Sonseray, whose mother died three years earlier. He's an angry young man, searching for a mother. April Mendez misses her refuge, the public library, when she moves to the country, and a mushroom farm.
Spinelli's book is a powerful one, portraying lost children who need hope, and help, so much. Each of these stories starts as a tragedy, and ends in hope. To many people, it might seem strange that a little blue library card has the power to bring hope. Those of us who work in libraries know it's possible.
Jerry Spinelli's website is www.jerryspinelli.com
The Library Card by Jerry Spinelli. Scholastic, Inc. Reprinted 1998. ISBN 9780590386333 (paperback), 148p.