Ursula Dubosarsky’s sublimely poetic text in ‘Midnight at the Library’ tells a mesmerising fable about two children visiting the library in search of ‘a little book’ and traverses centuries of storytelling. Ron Brooks’ glorious illustrations make this a treasure of a book to be treasured by booklovers, and by those who will be converted by its winsome majesty.
‘Midnight at the Library’ was created for the 50th anniversary of the National Library of Australia. It celebrates the role of libraries as repositories of knowledge, custodians of heritage, and sources of stimulus to the imagination. It offers a very short history of books, printing, and libraries, with an acknowledgment of the threats to intellectual freedom which libraries have suffered through the ages. (The image depicting the Nazis burning books is particularly chilling.) The artwork was enlarged and dramatically screened on the entrance to the NLA as a tangible reference to the book’s relevance to the
NLA’s anniversary. A key to some of the treasures contained in the NLA is offered at the back of the book.
Ursula Dubosarsky is an internationally acclaimed and multiple award-winner who was Australian Children’s Laureate 2020 and 2021. Ron Brooks is a renowned illustrator, who has won the CBCA Picture Book of the Year Award four times – for Jenny Wagner’s ‘The Bunyip of Berkeley’s Creek’ in 1974, ‘John Brown Rose and the Midnight Cat’ by Jenny Wagner in 1978, ‘Fox’ by Margaret Wild in 2001, and ‘The Coat’ by Julie Hunt in 2013. ‘Fox’ was also winner of the German Youth Literature Award (Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis) in 2004. Both Ursula Dubosarsky and Ron Brooks have been nominated for the IBBY Hans Christian Andersen Award, and Dubosarsky several times for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award.
Brooks’ work here pays tribute to iconic moments in history and to some iconic artists as well. Note, too, that he created ‘the little book made of gold’ which features in his artwork. The endpapers contain luscious images of monumental library shelves of books in all their variety and glory. And the cover image is a magnificently designed, symbolic image of an open book which is also suggestive of the many-windowed iconic library building to which this book is dedicated. This beautiful work is the author and illustrator’s tribute to the restorative power of books and libraries in children’s and adults’ lives. It is a book about books which is a beacon of light.