Ninjas! Books! Librarians! Sword fighting! Time travel!
The Ninja Librarians (2014) by Jen Swann Downey
Suggested age range: 9 and up (Source Books, 384 pages)
Rating: 5/5 stars Source: e-ARC from Net Galley
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Release Date: April 15th, 2014
The Book: Dorrie has high hopes for adventure. But will she ever find it? Or will it find her? Opening with a bang, the novel charts Dorrie’s journey as she and her brother, Marcus, discover a secret space in the local library while chasing a runaway mongoose. Suddenly they are transported to Petrarch’s Library, the base for a secret society of librarians. After their surprising arrival in the library, they discover that the home of the secret society is not just a connecting point for various libraries around the world—it is linked to the past by giving access to all time periods since the advent of the written word. Dorrie discovers that she is a “keyhand,” someone who has the ability to time travel! When the kids are allowed to stay in Petrarch’s Library, they jump at the chance. Who wouldn’t want to be a ninja librarian for an epic library and help make the world a better place?
Spirituality in The Ninja Librarians: Some people believe in the idea that a person can be “destined” for great things. This idea underlies the narrative of Downey’s story; Dorrie and Marcus are both clearly cut out for something greater than what they think they are capable of, especially Dorrie. Downey explores the idea of the importance of preserving the past and appreciating the sacrifices of those who have gone before us. The story also celebrates people, many of them quite selfless, working (largely unseen) for the good of those whom they may never meet. There’s a spiritual idea here that I think should be explored some more.
Exploring this Book with Readers: This spotlight on libraries and librarians and how amazing they are means a trip to the library is in order! I loved how Downey highlighted different skills librarians must have, but in a fun way. Reading this book and talking about it with young readers might represent a fantastic opportunity to talk about libraries and why we love them. There is also the potential to cross into something history related with this book, especially in regards to the novel’s time hopping.
The Final Word: Readers of all ages who love books and libraries will enjoy this bookish adventure! Dorrie is a real hoot, and her antics (as well as Marcus’s and Moe’s) will keep you laughing throughout the story. I love books and libraries, so when I saw that this book was releasing this year, I was pretty excited, to say the least. I was even more thrilled when I received an e-ARC through Net Galley AND hosted an interview with Jen Swann Downey on the blog! Thank you Source Books! I expect there will be a sequel, and I am quite excited to read what happens in the next adventure of the Ninja Librarians!