Sunday, February 17, 2008


Here Lies the Librarian

by Richard Peck.

I love Peck's books A Long Way From Chicago and A Year Down Yonder, both of which mine small towns of long ago for laughs. In fact, when he writes like this, Richard Peck reminds me of Robert Newton Peck, he also set his hilarious stories in rural countryside of the past. This is no exception, being set in 1914, in a town so small and backwards that a nearby small town referred to them as "Rubesburg." At this time, in this town, the automobile is just getting a firm foothold, and roads are just starting to come through. Two families compete for automotive repair business, though the Kirbys are far less than scrupulous.

At the same time, the locals are goaded into reopening their library and looking for a new librarian. When they end up with three big-city heiresses sharing the job and funding their own major improvements, the town hardly knows what hit them. And then they take on PeeWee - never known as Eleanor - as a project, too. Both teaching her what it means to be a lady and encouraging her to retain her spunk, they make her into quite the girl, big enough to stand on her own when her brother moves to Indianapolis with one of the librarians. Turns out she and he are both car-mad, and after he shows his stuff at a car race, her auto-maker father is impressed, even if Eleanor did finish the race for him in the end.

It might sound a touch confusing - well, that's because there are small plots aplenty. They keep the book hopping and funny right from the start, but they all tie in together nicely, making it a good read for a reluctant reader or a keen one, and fun for either gender, to boot. Peck's comic touch shows no sign of waning, and this is a fun read, even for the non-librarian.

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