Cover image for
The library card
Spinelli, Jerry.
Personal Author:
Physical Description:
148 pages ; 21 cm
The lives of four young people in different circumstances are changed by their encounters with books.
Reading Level:
690 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 4.3 4.0 24962.
Lexile Number:
690 Lexile.
Pub Date:
Scholastic, 1997.


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Material Type
Shelf Number
Kid/Juvenile Closed stacks fiction Closed stacks kids book SPINE
Kid/Juvenile Fiction Kids book SPINE
Kid/Juvenile Fiction Kids book SPINE
Kid/Juvenile Fiction Kids book SPINE

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The lives of four young people in different circumstances are changed by their encounters with books.

Author Notes

Jerry Spinelli was born in Norristown, Pennsylvania on February 1, 1941. He received a bachelor's degree from Gettysburg College and a master's degree from Johns Hopkins University. He worked as an editor with Chilton from 1966 to 1989. He launched his career in children's literature with Space Station 7th Grade in 1982. He has written over 30 books including The Bathwater Gang, Picklemania, Stargirl, Milkweed, and Mama Seeton's Whistle. In 1991, he won the Newbery Award for Maniac Magee. In 1998, Wringer was named a Newbery Honor book.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 5^-7. Whether he's writing about gender roles in There's a Girl in My Hammerlock (1991) or about how books change lives in these four short stories, Spinelli is able to convey the message with humor and tenderness and with a fast-talking immediacy about the preteen scene. The first and best story here begins with two city kids shoplifting and vandalizing their neighborhood, spraying the place with graffiti, and dissing each other with cheerful hostility as they dream of the big cars they will drive one day. Then one of them discovers the library and the wonder of science, and he's transformed. By the end of the story, the point of view has switched to the one who hasn't changed, the one left behind with his spray-can and his empty dreams. That sense of vulnerability is also the appeal in another story about a violent outcast, who makes the storyteller in the library read to him from a romance novel. The most obviously didactic story is a one-note farce about a suburban girl who goes through withdrawal symptoms when there's a TV blackout, and--you guessed it--discovers herself and her world in the library. One more thing makes this a choice for National Library Week: the librarians are perfect. --Hazel Rochman

Publisher's Weekly Review

With this collection of four vaguely unsettling tales, Spinelli (Maniac Magee) offers a glimpse into the magical and unexpected ways contact with books can change lives. Many of the characters are less than likable, yet Spinelli tells their stories with sympathy and humor. The turning point for each of the troubled, lonely children comes with the discovery of a blank blue library card. In one story, a girl has ceased to exist on her own because of the endless hours she spends watching television. The blue card leads her to a library, where she finds the brief story of her life, prior to her TV mania, in the biography section. The details in the pages set her off on a frenetic search for the life she has lost. In another tale, a book-loving city girl has moved to farm country, where she meets an angry, confused teenager on a bookmobile. The blue card triggers an uneasy correspondence that eventually brings them together as friends. Spinelli's spare writing and careful pacing reinforce the dramatic nature of the events as they unfold. While the premise (the card) behind the stories may seem contrived, the author uses it effectively to take a close look at how young people deal with hard circumstances. Ages 8-14. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-8‘These four stories feature different characters, styles, and moods, but each plot hinges upon a library card. In "Mongoose," the strongest story, two 12-year-old boys become partners in crime and rebellion. Weasel convinces Mongoose to shoplift and spray graffiti, but when Mongoose enters a library for the first time and is mesmerized by a book of unusual facts, the friendship begins to unravel. The point of view shifts from Mongoose to Weasel halfway through, neatly accentuating their different outlooks. "Brenda" is a television addict trying to survive the Great TV Turn-Off. The satire is obvious but the humor is still sharp and insightful. "Sonseray" is a troubled homeless teen, tortured by memories of his mother. His library card brings him to a preschool storytime and the storyteller is mysteriously compelled to read an adult romance novel to Sonseray: the same book the boy's mother repeatedly read to him as a child. When he checks it out, he regains some of the precious memories he has yearned for. "April Mendez" gets picked up by a bookmobile, where she meets an older girl who claims to be hijacking the vehicle. April befriends the girl and gives her a library card as a farewell present. In this story, the friendship and trust between the two develops without the card. Taking all four tales together, the device seems a bit forced and artificial, rather than a unifying element. Though not completely satisfying as a collection, Spinelli's unique characters and lively wit will interest many readers.‘Steven Engelfried, West Linn Public Library, OR (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Mongoosep. 1
Brendap. 53
Sonserayp. 85
April Mendezp. 121