Hetty and the Battle of the Books
Hetty isn’t the only person in her school who loves the library but when you’ve fallen out with your friends, it’s not just a special place, it’s a safe place. Under the kindly wing of Mrs. Juster, the librarian, it’s the best kind of library; where all book-loving students can gather and a social hub for clubs to meet. The bookish bliss is disrupted by the awful news that funding for the library has been cut and the library will be closed. Hetty can’t let this happen but she knows she isn’t the kind of student that Principal McCarthy will listen to, so she needs the right kind of help.
As anyone familiar with her Pages & Co. series will know, Anna James is a skilled storyteller, and this novel interweaves the importance of books and libraries to young readers with the challenges of growing up and navigating friendships. Hetty is an engaging protagonist, she’s flawed and endearing and willing to swallow her pride to save her beloved library. Saving the day requires the friends to learn to communicate and co-operate which makes this a great read for 8+ as these can be tricky skills to learn.
An uplifting ending reinforces the importance of community action and people power and the illustrations provided by Jez Tuya reinforce the narrative and bring the characters to life. As always with Barrington Stoke novels, a big story is told effectively in only 68 pages, perfect for a dyslexic, reluctant or indeed any reader.