I love waking up on Saturday mornings. Saturday has always been the day of greatest possibility. You never know what can happen on a Saturday. It is usually the one day of the week that has fewer "must dos" or scheduled activities. We have the luxury of imagining our day unfolding in many different ways. One of the things I have always loved to do on Saturdays is go to the library. You can imagine with all of the wonderful libraries in the world that you should be prepared for wonderful things to happen. But a real live lion?
Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen and illustrated by Kevin Hawkes is a warm and engaging story about libraries, books, rules and friendship. And most of all, when it is okay to break the rules to help someone. One of the librarians, Mr. McBee, is quite upset when a lion walks into the library one day. When he reports it to Miss Merriweather, the head librarian, her only concern is whether or not the lion is following the library's rules. The main rule in a library, of course, is keeping quiet or speaking in a low voice so as to not disturb other people in the library. When Mr. McBee reports that the lion is not breaking any rules, Miss Merriweather says to leave him alone
As it turns out, the lion's favorite time in the library is story hour when the story lady reads aloud to the children in their comfy story corner. However, he is not at all happy when she is done for the day as he wants to hear another story and so he roars very loudly. When Miss Merriweather comes to scold him, the children ask if he can return the following day for more stories if he doesn't roar. Miss Merriweather responds, "Yes. A nice, quiet lion would certainly be allowed to come back for story hour tomorrow."
Each day the lion returns early for story hour and makes himself useful by licking envelopes or dusting the encyclopedias with his tail or putting children on his back so they can reach books on the high shelves. But one day while he is helping in Miss Merriweather's office, she falls from a ladder and hurts herself. She tells the lion to get Mr. McBee to help. Mr. McBee has not grown any fonder of the lion and ignores him. The lion is trying to follow the rules and not make noise but Mr. McBee does not understand that the lion needs his help, so finally in frustration, he roars "the loudest roar he had ever roared in his life."
Mr. McBee runs to Miss Merriweather's office to report that the lion has broken the rules when he finds Miss Merriweather on the floor with a broken arm needing help. He realizes that the lion broke the rules to help a friend. But the lion doesn't come back to the library the next day, or the day after that. Everyone was sad, especially Miss Merriweather. So, Mr. McBee searches the town to find the lion to tell him about the NEW library rule - that there is no roaring in the library unless you have a good reason like trying to help a friend who's been hurt. The lion returns to the library the next day and is welcomed by all his friends.
In addition to being a good story with a happy ending and illustrated with evocative, soft pastels, the story celebrates friendship and the importance of community.