December 14, 2015
The Ninja Librarians: The Accidental Keyhand by Jen Swann Downey
Dorrie and her brother Marcus are in hot-pursuit of Moe, an especially vengeful mongoose, when they follow him into a janitor’s closet. When they can’t find him, they know he didn’t slip back past them. Eventually they find their way into a secret room.
It’s clear that the dusty, room doesn’t see regular use. Dorrie and Marcus have gotten no more than a glimpse of the bookshelves, the table stacked with papers, or the strange pattern radiating out from a star on the room’s floor, when the floor itself rises up, bubble-like. The wooden floor cracks flacks away leaving a tarry, blackness beneath.
Dorrie and Marcus fall into and through this blackness, dropping into the pool of a Roman-style bath. Above them, Dorrie’s backpack and Moe hang from the edge of the hole.
This is one of those books that is really hard to summarize because it is so marvelously complex. Suffice it to say that I can’t do it justice so I’m going to go with the super-compact version.
Dorrie and Marcus have dropped into Petrarch’s Library. It is home to a secret society of librarians who are willing to fight and risk capture to protect the written word.
Word of warning — much like the first Harry Potter book, this one took a little bit to grab me. You meet so many characters so quickly that it can be a bit of a . . . what a minute, who is that? . . . as you read. You also spend about forty pages in the “real world” before making it to Petrarch’s Library, but once you get there it was well worth the wait. Readers encounter a variety of historical figures ranging from Hypatia to Casanova. Relax, he isn’t as awful as you might imagine. They learn about a variety of historical periods, plant lore, and sword fighting.
Whether your young reader is a fantasy buff, a history fan or someone who loves a good sword fight, they will find something in here to love. There is mystery and adventure, humor and more. A definite “must read” for librarians, book lovers, and anti-book banners alike.