Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication Date: 28 September 2004 (Reprint)
Format: Paperback, 112 pgs
Illustrator: George Hughes
To many book lovers, trapping in a library is a dream come true, isn't it? After all, you can read all the books you want and don't have to worry over which books to borrow. However, two young girls in this story think otherwise. Mary Rose and Jo-Beth have stumbled into an old library when they go in search for a restroom. It is a wintry night and their father has left the car to look for a gas station, bringing with him a gas can.
What they see in that old library is an extraordinary one as not only there isn't any people around (perhaps it's due to the blizzard and that it's near to closing hour) but there are all kinds of strange displays in it - featuring some characters from storybooks or some scenes of the past (an old school bus which they called it a 'kid hack').
While Jo-Beth is fascinated by the overall atmosphere, Mary Rose doesn't feel excited like Jo-Beth is as she is more worried that their father couldn't find them now that they have lost contact with him. You see, Mary Rose is a responsible and practical-minded girl while Jo-Beth is more of a drama queen.
As the night slowly drags along, they find something in the library that would make their hearts race and their imaginations run wild. There, they met a mynah who talks and a strange old woman called Vilmor Finton, who is both the librarian and the owner of this big manor.
Filled with mysteries and adventures, this gem would delight all young readers (9 - 11 years) and adults as well. I liked the two sisters despite their differences; and their dialogues made me smile at times. Miss Finton is a character that you won't like initially but will grow on you the more you read about her. What I liked most about the ending is not only the father and daughters' reunion but the plan they have had for the library (or old mansion?) in the near future.
Note: A big 'Thank You' to Wendy of Musings of a Bookish Kitty for bringing this book to my attention. I can see why this book is one of her top 10 books from her childhood that she would love to revisit.