The Strange Library by author Haruki Murakami
Did you know that acclaimed author Haruki Murakami wrote a children’s book?! I stumbled across this hidden gem one day and picked it up used on Amazon. It appears that this copy of The Strange Library was actually a library book at one point, complete with the stickers on the binding. I found this quite cute.
It’s an illustrated short novel probably for the 8-12 year old range. It’s a little mature in theme but the language is easy to handle and the font is nice and large. However, as with most kid’s books, adults are more than welcome to enjoy them as well. The best kids books will also be loved by anyone of any age.
The Strange Library is indeed a very strange tale. It’s about a young boy who ventures to the local library only to find himself trapped there by a mysterious old man. He was lured to the basement dungeon and told to read huge tomes on a boring subject. If he had them fully memorized in a month he’d be set free, otherwise the man would eat his brains. You know, the classic children’s fable.
Throughout this month the boy experiences some unusual and slightly magical happenings. They’re magical in the typical Murakami way, just outside of our normal reality so they’re almost believable. Magical realism is an underutilized genre and one that American authors don’t tend to use as much. Japan and Mexico probably are the biggest sources of this kind of fantasy.
Since it is advertised as a children’s book one expects there to be a happy ending. Well, Murakami is no traditional author and the ending may come as a surprise to most readers. I found myself questioning what the moral of this story could be. This hang up is what really halted me from rating this book higher. Shouldn’t there be a lesson to this allegory? Maybe it isn’t an allegory at all.
You can likely read The Strange Library in one sitting. I enjoyed it as a short afternoon distraction. The illustrated pages are simple but colorful and help to pad out the page length. Pictures also help the book seem less intimidating to younger readers who are still discovering the love of books.
It’s hard to say exactly who the intended audience for The Strange Library is. It isn’t the typical Murakami and it definitely isn’t a typical children’s book. If you are looking for an odd tale that you’ve never seen before then you should ignore any age recommendations and check this one out.
4/5 books 📖📖📖📖
For more children’s literature read Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes
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