Wesley Bates thinks his life pretty much sucks. He’s landed at the bottom of his school’s popularity ladder, and bully Randy Stanford seems to be waiting around every corner.
The troubled teen thinks he’s found a way to escape his real-world problems when he stumbles upon strange doorways in Astoria’s local library that seem to lead into the extraordinary worlds from all his favorite books. Oz, Neverland, Wonderland — they’re all a reality with Wesley’s new discovery. Wesley teams with best friend Taylor Williams to embark on a great adventure, both ready to leave the drama of middle school behind.
But the two kids quickly find themselves embroiled in a centuries-old battle for the library and the magic hiding within. Now, fighting alongside the eccentric old man who’s vowed to protect the building’s power, the pair must help ward off an attack by a shadowy group with a strange tie to Wesley’s nemesis, forcing Wesley to face the fears he’s been dodging… and one of the most terrifying bullies of all time!
Little Lost Boy is the first novella in The Librarian series and introduces the reader to Wes and Taylor, two friends who discover their local library is far, far more than a place that houses books. In fact, their library is a place where the boundaries between the real and fictional worlds are often very, very blurry.
The Astoria Library is the coolest place in town and a place of legend, a place where some of the kids in town fear to go because the building is so old and slightly scary. In fact, no one (and I do mean no one!) even knows exactly when the library was built or who built it. In addition to housing books, the Astoria Library is also home to large-scale displays featuring scenes from some of the world’s most beloved books including Peter Pan, The Wizard of Oz and, Fahrenheit 451. There are also beautifully carved panels that depict scenes from other equally beloved books like Huck Finn and Sherlock Holmes. During a field trip to the library, Wes and Taylor inadvertently discover the library and librarians’ secret – the displays and the panels are actually portals into the fictional worlds they depict and like all portals, the door goes both ways.
It doesn’t take long for Wes and Taylor to discover the Little Boy Lost is Locke, one of the Lost Boys from Neverland and he has crossed over into the real world and has no way to get back. Once the three determine they can not only trust one another but also help one another, the mission to get Locke back to Neverland begins. The problems? The kids only have eighty-eight minutes to get Locke back or he will be permanently written out of his book and the key to getting Locke back to Neverland was stolen by Wes’s enemy, Randy. In order to retrieve the key, the kids must go through Oz where they discover a heartbreaking scene – the girl intended to marry the Tin Man who has been abandoned by her beloved. Taylor is so upset by the scene that she convinces Wes and Locke to help her heal the heartbreak of the young girl. Little do the kids know when you mess with events in the fictional world you mess with the entire course of the fictional world which in turn impacts the real world! There’s a surprise for later 🙂
What I liked: Wes and Taylor! In the real world, Wes is always a target of Randy and his crew who are relentless in their harassment. Wes is a super well-read nerd who often won’t stand up for himself so his cute little friend Taylor does. Taylor is a sweet girl with a crush on Wes who genuinely likes Wes and is completely unafraid of Randy. When the two cross over into the fictional world, Wes really comes into his own; he knows these worlds, the stories, and the characters and is totally fearless.
I also liked the concept of crossing over between the real and fictional worlds. While some of the rules seem a bit arbitrary (you can only be gone for 88 minutes?) the overall idea is pretty cool.
The Bottom Line: I got through this read with no difficulty but found the overall read to be just OK. I can totally appreciate how this novella series will appeal to middle grade readers but I can’t see it appealing to an older audience. In truth, there is something about this title that rubbed me the wrong way but I can’t seem to identify what that thing is. In the meantime, I fully intend to continue on with this series and hope whatever it is that is rubbing me wrong, either presents or resolves itself.
P.S. Dear reader, since finishing the first novella in this series and writing this review, I did indeed dive into novella number two. Unfortunately, whatever it is that rubbed me wrong in novella number one didn’t resolve itself and I ended up having to DNF the title 😦