This week’s Old Favorite is featured because of today’s snowstorm. (Even if it wasn’t a BIG storm, it got us all thinking snow, right?) I also really, really like the title. 🙂 It’s the perfect story to read in the middle of a blizzard, or when you’re stuck in the library. Or, really, anytime.
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Help! I’m a Prisoner in the Library! by Eth Clifford, is the story of two sisters: Mary Rose and Jo-Beth Onetree. They have a father who is always late for everything, and never thinks ahead. This time, the girls are going to visit their aunt in Indianapolis while their mother has a baby. Their father was supposed to fill the gas tank of the car midway through the trip, but even though Mary Rose reminded him, he didn’t do it. As a result, the car stops running in the middle of a street in a deserted part of town. As if that weren’t enough, they’re stranded in the middle of a blinding snowstorm.
Mr. Onetree leaves to get gas, and tells Mary Rose and Jo-Beth to stay put in the car, he’ll be right back. But as soon as their father walks out of sight, Jo-Beth realizes that she has to use a bathroom. Mary Rose sees a sign for a library down the street, and decides that, even though it’s almost 5:00, she and Jo-Beth have enough time to get to the library, use the bathroom, and get back to the car before their father returns.
But things don’t go quite as planned, and the librarian, Vilmore Finch, closes the doors without seeing the girls. She leaves, and suddenly, the Onetree sisters are locked in the library with no way out!
When the girls find out that the snowstorm is actually one of the worst blizzards in history to hit Indiana, just as the power goes out, Mary Rose and Jo-Beth are shocked. They lose both the lights and the telephone service…and then they hear a thump and an awful moan from the floor above. What should they do? What can they do? It’s the beginning of a very long, long night…
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This is a great adventure/mystery story about two sisters who mostly get along, but have some issues. Mary Rose is practical, older and in charge. Jo-Beth is imaginative, dramatic, and not fond of being the youngest. Even though they may argue, working together they’re an unstoppable pair. This is one of my favorite books to read aloud, because the voices are so clear.
Help! I’m a Prisoner in the Library! was written in 1979, so it’s not really that old, as children’s books go. It still feels current, anyway! And who hasn’t imagined being locked in their local library? How would you get out? How would you survive? What happens there after hours? (Or maybe that’s just me…)
There are several other books about Mary Rose and Jo-Beth and their adventures because of their disorganized and last-minute father: Just Tell Me When We’re Dead!, Scared Silly, The Dastardly Murder of Dirty Pete, and Never Hit a Ghost with a Baseball Bat. As you can tell from the titles, they’re all very exciting, with lots of danger, laughs and cliff-hanger chapter endings. I’ve read these with boys and girls, and they all like them. I wish there were a dozen more!
Try Help! I’m a Prisoner in the Library! or one of these other fun and funny adventures with these two sisters–you’ll enjoy them. These books are perfect for third-grade readers, but they’re so much fun that fourth graders would enjoy them too.
As always, we’d love to hear what you think!