William Bee: Stanley’s Library

Illustrated by the author

Published by Jonathan Cape, Penguin Random House, 2021

Stanley would have to be my favourite hamster, and to find him in his library van driving to the village green delivering books to all and sundry, just makes me love him even more!

We open the book to find that Stanley’s library is getting ready for another busy day. It’s 9.45am and the shelves need some tidying up. Take some time to read the titles –  in the horror section there are books about cats, snakes, and owls. I guess if you are a hamster, that’s understandable. Of course, there is a whole shelf dedicated to the wonders of cheese, all books bound in that cheesy, orangy, rindy yellow. Stanley can’t help looking at a cheese book, I get that…if it’s your favourite topic, books are like magnets!

Finally, the van is loaded up and Stanley is on his way to the village green. The hamster patrons who arrive are coming to borrow and return books, and Stanley knows them all. Myrtle loves books about cheese and Hattie loves motorbikes. Stanley has a surprise for Hattie and passes on to her The Big Book of Twisty Roads – how thoughtful! Shamus loves sailing, and Stanley has the latest book for him, Lots of Knots.

Back at the library, there is a special story time, Agatha Mouse has come to read her new book, First Mouse in Space. Everyone arrives in their fancy costumes. It must be good because Stanley takes a copy home and can’t stop reading it, in the bath and in bed!

This is a delightful story about the joys of reading, the value of libraries and the importance of librarians. The illustrations are bold and bright, cute and endearing. There is gentle humour in the details to make the older reader smile and the younger reader to appreciate.

(If you would like to read more about Stanley and his adventures, there are many more titles to choose from as he explores the world around him from numbers, shapes and colours to being a farmer, builder and postman.)

I can highly recommend this picture book for children 2-4 years and below are more suggestions for picture books which explore the world of libraries and the books within them:

The Library Book
by Gabby Dawnay
Illustrated by Ian Morris

Madeline Finn and the Library Dog by Lisa Papp

Library Lion
by Michelle Knudsen
Illustrated by Kevin Hawkes

Curious George Visits the Library by Margaret & H.A. Rey
Illustrated by Martha Weston

Maisy Goes to the Library
by Lucy Cousins

Otto, the Book Bear
by Katie Cleminson

Luna Loves Library Day
by Joseph Coelho
Illustrated by Fiona Lumbers

A Library Book for Bear
by Bonny Becker
Illustrated by
Kady MacDonald Denton

Find Spot at the Library
by Eric Hill

The Detective Dog
by Julia Donaldson
Illustrated by Sara Ogilvie

Moose’s Book Bus
by Inga Moore

The Children Who Loved Books
by Peter Carnavas

Lucy’s Book
by Natalie Jane Prior
Illustrated by Cheryl Orsini

Book! Book! Book!
by Deborah Bruss
Illustrated by Tiphanie Beeke

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
by William Joyce
Illustrated by Joe Bluhm

Wild About Books
by Judy Sierra
Illustrated by Marc Brown

The Not So Quiet Library
by Zachariah Ohora

Library Babies by Puck Illustrated by Violet Lemay

Dear Librarian
by Lydia Sigwarth
Illustrated by Romina Galotta

Brenna Maloney: Philomena’s New Glasses

Photographs by Chuck Kennedy

Published by Viking, Penguin Young Readers Group, 2017

A dear friend introduced me to Philomena and her sisters recently, what a cute little trio of guinea pigs! I have shared this story with young readers and much older ones and everyone, without exception, has finished the book with a smile.

My favourite is Nora Jane. She is not the oldest, that’s Philomena. She is not the largest, that’s Audrey. Nora Jane is completely herself, prepared to follow her sisters’ adventures in acquiring glasses, bags and dresses whether she needs all this stuff or not. But enough is enough. Does she really need a bag when her arms are too short to carry one, or glasses when she can see perfectly well without them?

Nora Jane is even prepared to squeeze herself into a dress just like her trendy sisters, but she soon discovers that the dress makes her armpits itch!

There is nothing like a sisterly conversation, sharing the truth, and talking about the things that are really bothering you, to get the problem sorted.

And just when you think the problems are sorted, your sister can still surprise you!

The final page is very cleverly staged and convinces me that Nora Jane is one sassy, unique and endearing character.

Chuck Kennedy has done a remarkable job getting these real-life guinea pigs to pose for photo shoots. It was also comforting to read that:

“No stunt doubles were used in the making of this book. Each guinea pig performed her own stunts, including hefty purse lifting, snug dress wearing, and even extensive kale eating.”

I can highly recommend this book for children 2-8 years and up to 88 years, my mother was giggling all the way through her first read. Below are more suggestions for further reading about the joys and tribulations of having a sister:

My Sister by
Joanna Young
The Seven Chinese Sisters
by Kathy Tucker
Illustrated by
Grace Lin
The Proudest Blue by
Ibtihaj Muhammad
with S.K.Ali
Illustrated by
Hatem Aly
Flo & Wendell by
William Wegman
I’ll Always Be Older Than You
by Jane Godwin
Illustrated by
Sara Acton
Whatever Happened to
My Sister by
Simona Ciraolo