Even from the end-papers, where assorted children are portrayed having fun, some of them with books, this is a charming book, and the fact that it’s dedicated by the author to the libraries where he did his homework and discovered magic is also endearing to this lover of libraries. Luna, who is mixed race, gets her books and her library card ready with Mum, and Mum drops her off at the library where she meets Dad, who ‘always has his head in a book’. In the Big Book section they choose the ‘Big book of dinosaurs, Mummies and unexplained mysteries’ (spy the Mummy hiding on the shelf!). Luna loves bugs, but they make Dad go ‘errrnnnnngggggggg!’ (and there are insects to look out for) – but into the book bag goes ‘Maurice Mandible’s Mini-monsters’. Dad knows lots of magic tricks, including, thinks Luna sadly, how to disappear, and she wants to learn how to bring him back, so she chooses ‘Marabella’s book of Magic Mayhem’. Dad finds a history book about where he grew up, a place where palm trees grow, so that goes into the book bag, too, and then a fairy tale, which is inserted as a smaller book-within-the-book. ‘The Troll King and the Mermaid Queen’ tells of two very different people who love their little daughter, at home both in the ocean and in holes, but they cannot be happy together, so the Troll King leaves: Dad and Luna finish the story and have a big hug on a squashy library chair. Lula checks out her books and goes home, her book bag full of memories about adventure, magic and Dad. Luna loves library day, and so do we.
Joseph Coelho is a successful performance poet, and he proves equally adept at writing for young children in this simple but very effective story, with delightful illustrations by relatively new artist Fiona Lumbers. Children, and adults, who love books and libraries will relish this.