Title: The Midnight Library
Author/Illustrator: Kazuno Kohara
Publisher: Roaring Book Press
Word Count: 405
The Midnight Library is an adorable story that teaches children about some of the great services provided by our public libraries. I have to give a shout-out to libraries here. They provide so many fantastic services to our communities; however, I think a lot of people aren’t aware of all that they offer. I know I had no idea until I started my work as a storyteller.
I began performing for children and families at libraries in my home state of Ohio and in nearby states like Michigan and New York about eight years ago. Every time I would visit a library, I’d be amazed at the wide range of programming being offered for people of all ages — and all of it free! If I’d never become a storyteller, I never would have known. Today I try to take advantage of the great programs available as much as possible, especially now that I have my son. If you’ve never checked out what’s offered at your local library, I’d encourage you to do so — you may be surprised!
Alright, now onto conflict. Conflict doesn’t always have to be deep, dark and scary. Conflict is anything that stands in the way of the protagonist getting what he/she wants. There are three incidents of conflict in this book, and I love how cute they are and how the resolution to each one is designed to highlight the services offered by the library.
The protagonist in the story is a little librarian who works alongside her three assistant owls. The author tells us that: “The library was always busy, but it was also a peaceful and quiet place. Until one night when. . . A band of squirrels began to play music!”
Enter Conflict #1 (and a very funny conflict at that!): Noise in the library — a squirrel band to be specific!
The librarian tells the squirrels to be quiet in the reading room, but they insist that they must practice for their next concert. The little librarian solves the problem by taking the squirrels to the activity room. (Did you know that most libraries have an activity room that can be used by community members for meetings, etc?) Thus, silence is restored to the reading room, the squirrels get to practice, and the little librarian is able to go back to work. Until. . .
Conflict #2: It starts to rain inside the library.
The little librarian is convinced there’s a hole in the roof, but soon discovers the “rain” is really the tears of a little wolf who is saddened by something that happened in the book she’s reading. The little librarian solves the problem by taking Miss Wolf to the storytelling corner and reading her the whole story. After all, she knows the story has a happy ending. (If you have kids, from babies to teens, be sure to take advantage of story hours and other children’s programming at your local library!)
Finally, the sun is about to come up and it’s time for the Midnight Library to close — except there’s one problem.
Conflict #3: A slow-reading tortoise refuses to leave until he’s finished his book — and he still has 500 pages to go!
So what’s a librarian to do? She makes the tortoise a library card and explains the library policy for borrowing books. Problem solved!
The Midnight Library is a great example of how conflict doesn’t have to be super-serious in a picture book. In fact, it can be quite humorous. Every time I think about the tortoise with 500 pages left to read I can’t help but chuckle!
Can you think of any other picture books in which the conflict is presented in a humorous way?
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