Rebel in the Library of Ever. Zeno Alexander, Author. (The Library of Ever Book 2) April 28, 2020. Macmillan. 224 pages. $16.99 hardcover; also available in digital format. Grades 3-7.
The plucky and curious Lenora has returned, and it is with no less determination to fight the Forces of Darkness and find the absolute truth than in her previous adventure, The Library of Ever (2019).
This time, our heroine is a year older (12) and still focused on, well, everything that crosses her path, is thrust into her trust, and is requested of her. From the moment she returns to the Library, she can tell that something is more than exceedingly amiss. Her own badge has disappeared. Librarians of her acquaintance exit the Library, tearfully telling her that they’ve been fired but that the Library needs her. Malachi, the ten-foot tall Chief Answerer has been demoted to Assistant Answerer.
Armed with her trusty notebook, Lenora is tasked with finding the answer to a presumably easy question for a patron: What is the world’s largest number? Recalling that “Knowledge Is a Light,” Lenora’s lost badge reappears, now indicating that she has been promoted to Second Apprentice Librarian.
In her search for the answer to the question, Lenora meets a young girl who is referred to as “Princess” but chooses to be called “Lucy” because she hates her real name. (Oh, dear. Imposed names can be frustrating, can’t they? Yes, they can if one doesn’t know who else shares one’s name.) Oh, and Princess/Lucy/Hated Real Name’s father is the Director of the Library who is changing everything and not for the better. (Since taking over the Library, the Director has seen fit to remove “many unnecessary and expensive books in order to make the Library a more exciting and entertaining experience…” by replacing books with his own.)
Together, Lenora and Lucy (who loves her father but not the people around him) embark on a journey to the Googology Department, where they learn what the word “googol” means and that a “nine-year-old named Milton Sirotta invented the term.” (As the story continues, we all learn that googol certainly isn’t the largest number, so of course, the search for the largest number goes on, and what a search that is!)
Along the way, Lenora and Lucy encounter myriad characters and situations that demand clear thinking and a reliance on their abilities, knowledge, and resourcefulness to not only answer the questions posed but also save the Library and its patrons from certain destruction. Fortuitously, Lenora is asked by another patron for help with his entry into a glider building contest, and this alliance will prove beneficial for Lenora, Lucy, and the Library. We learn about Zenodotus, the first head of the Library of Alexandria, “the greatest library of the ancient world, founded in Egypt long ago,” whom Lenora determines must be found. They grapple with the ancient city of Cahokia, a suspicious-acting koala, a multi-tentacled alien named Rosa, and a time travel experience in which history may or may not have been changed (you’ll have to read the book to find out for yourself). Their experiences incorporate concepts dealing with mathematics, aerospace, history, and personal strength of being.
The bottom line securely remains, “Knowledge is a light.” And in the words of Malachi, Lenora’s mentor, “Throughout history, that light has at times burned very dimly, and nearly even gone out, while in other times it has blazed up gloriously.” Keeping this close to her heart, Lenora discovers she can empower herself and those around her, resulting in a massive push to regain and restore the Library to its former bright glory.
However, this entry to the series, certainly, cannot be where the story ends, for Lenora has much more to give, as do libraries. She must be allowed to carry on and shine a light on knowledge! I can’t even imagine what a third installment of the series will entail!
As with the first book of the series, Alexander’s chronicling of Lenora’s journey is filled with stimulating information, clever scenarios and challenges, and copious amounts of good words for young readers to learn and use. The writing is engaging from the first page, and Zeno’s care to keep the intrigue flowing is well paced and second to none. All libraries that cater to younger readers would be remiss in not including both books in their collections, for The Library of Ever and Rebel in the Library of Ever encourage imagination, curiosity, self-empowerment, and the sheer wonderment of the world around us. “Rebel” is another love letter to libraries everywhere and a case for supporting our libraries in any way we can.
A final note:
Because this book is launching while we’re all staying home, I encourage you to order this book from your local independent book store, or if you don’t have a local independent book store near you (and I feel sorry for you if you don’t!), you can always order from my local independent book store, Page 158 Books in Wake Forest, NC. (They’re friends of mine and are A-1, first-rate, top-notch, world-class people who do an exquisite job when it comes to fulfilling book orders.)
Heck, if you didn’t get around to buying The Library of Ever, purchase that, too! Both books would make tip-top superlative gifts for the younger readers in your lives, and they’ll admire you for the well-bred gesture.
Thanks to Imprint/Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group for the ARC in exchange for an honest, straightforward, sincere, and forthright review.