Library Lion, written by Michelle Knudsen and illustrated by Kevin Hawkes.

I have been a fan of libraries for as long as I can remember.  As a bibliophile, the joy of browsing shelf after shelf of stories – unknown or familiar – always brings me pleasure. Now, as a parent, I enjoy sharing the same appreciation for libraries and their treasures with my children.  Perhaps for this reason, the book Library Lion is one of our personal favorites.Library Lion Book Cover - a lion in a library with two children

The story centers around a library that unexpectedly finds itself adopted by a lion. Unsurprisingly, the people in the library, especially grumpy Mr. McBee, are startled when a lion wanders in and sits down to enjoy story hour.  But since there aren’t any rules about lions in the library, the by-the-book librarian Miss Merriweather allows him to stay, so long as he promises to be quiet.  The lion visits every day and soon Miss Merriweather and the entire library community (except for Mr. McBee) come to accept the lion as their own; relying on him to dust shelves with his tail, lick envelopes for overdue notices with his huge tongue, and even using him as a step ladder to reach tall shelves.  Then one fateful day the lion is forced to break a rule to help a friend.  Will there still be room for a lion in the library after he breaks his promise to be quiet?

The sweet story line of Library Lion is aided by Kevin Hawkes’ soft, welcoming illustrations of a cozy library that encourage the reader to step inside and enjoy their own story hour.  “Wild” children who feel out of place in a quiet, rule abiding space, may identify with the lion who finds comfort and company in an unexpected place.  While rule abiding “Mr. McBee’s” can benefit from the reminder that rules are important, but friendship is even more so.

Library Lion is published by Candlewick (July 25, 2006), and is recommended for children aged 4 to 8.