Monday, January 23, 2012

Case Study No. 0188: Irene Ridpath, Grace Stutz, Lodelia Fulwider, and Geraldine Harrison

Here Lies the Librarian Book Trailer
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Eleanore McGrath is a 14 year old girl living in 1914 rural Indiana.

She wants nothing more than to work on motor cars with her brother.

Eleanore loves to do physical work. She hates dresses and cleaning up.

Eleanor's brother, Jake, wants her to grow up and dress like a proper lady.

Jake cares for Eleanor after the death of their parents.

Eleanor and Jake operate an automotive garage.

The penny-pinching town they live in is in an uproar because three new librarians have been hired to reopen the long closed library.

They are from rich automotive families and, unlike anyone in the sleepy working-class town, the ladies are independent and drive their own cars.

The ladies attended prestigious colleges and think of the library as their own special project.

Eleanor and Jake soon become friends of the ladies.

They whip the library in to tip top shape and Eleanor into a proper lady.

Jake helps fix the ladies' cars. One seems to have a crush on him.

Jake builds his own car out of scraps to race at the county fair.

The day of the race, Jake's car disappears.

One of the librarians gives Jake her personal Stutz Bearcat car to race.

Will Jake win the race, or one of the liberians' hearts?

Here Lies the Librarian
by Richard Peck

A Book Trailer
by Lauren Gonzales

Images 1-15 Library of Congress Image Collection
* All images are in the public domain

Music - Nipper: In My Merry Oldsmobile



Another gem from Peck, with his signature combination of quirky characters, poignancy, and outrageous farce. Parentless Peewee, 14, and Jake, the big brother she idolizes, live in rural Indiana in 1914. They run a small garage, but face nasty sabotaging from the rival Kirbys. The novel opens with a hilariously macabre twister that tears up Buelahland Cemetery, turning up coffins, and strews Mrs. B. D. Klinefelder's laundry, including her massive step-ins, around the county. The tornado doesn't dare to touch the stern former librarian's grave. The board of trustees closed the library after her death, but that situation is about to change. Irene Ridpath, a library science student from Butler University, arrives with her three equally pretty and wealthy sorority sisters, all of whom drive fabulous cars, sparking Jake's interest (not just in their cars). After many pranks and hijinks, Peewee ends up being the only finisher in a rough-and-ready auto race, an event recounted in the closing chapter when she is an elderly, although still spunky, old lady. A master of capturing voice, Peck aptly conveys the nuances of rural life in the early years of the last century while weaving in early feminism, the history of the automobile, and the message to be oneself. Kids will love the fast-paced action and librarians will guffaw over all the library puns.



Here Lies the Librarian , by Richard Peck (Dial, $16.99; ages 10- 16). Nobody messes with kids the way Richard Peck does. They think they have him all figured out: He's cool; he's the iconoclast who rips on every form of authority, especially that dreary institution school . And so he does. Few do better. But then he whips the rug out from under their feet by conjuring up teachers -- or, as here, members of that even duller breed, librarians -- fit to melt boys' hearts and kick-start girls' dreams. In this hilarious novel set in 1914 rural Indiana, the old-time librarian is killed off, literally -- "they found her checked out under the card catalog" -- and replaced by not one but four gorgeous, big-city, library science students. The township's forsaken bookroom is suddenly a social magnet. The girls aren't just ornaments, either. Here's Lodelia Fulwider acing her interview: " 'I am trained for the Registration Desk, the Circulation desk, the Information desk, the Periodical -- ' 'We only got the one desk,' yelped Old Man Unrath."

But the mean, dried-up, book-hating librarian is just one of the stereotypes upended here as thoroughly as the coffins surprised from the earth in the first chapter, "Twister in the Graveyard." Few people are what they seem. The narrator, 14-year-old, school-averse Peewee, has the skills and patter of the dawning automobile age down so well that two chapters zoom by before we learn he's a she. "Candybox-pretty" girls turn out to be hardboiled bluestockings and feminists. Crazy old Col. Hazelrigg, still fighting the Rebs, proves "sane as you or me." All this subversion climaxes in a day at the races so inspiring yet so funny it's like Janet Guthrie channeling the Marx Brothers. Peewee, aka Eleanor, drives a Stutz Bearcat to victory in the county's first-ever Ten-Mile Stock Auto Event. And then -- saved by a librarian -- she heads to high school. Nothing could be cooler. (Guthrie, the first woman to compete in the Indy 500, actually gets a nod in a moving afterword.)



History and literature has many exciting librarians to be proud of! Such is the case in Richard Peck's Here Lies the Librarian.

In the young adult novel, Peck presented not one, but five librarians. Four lively, spirited, head strong, young and RICH library science students and one dead public librarian. Such contrast! Peck buries Electra Dietz, public librarian of Hoosier County, for good reasons. She doesn't like children and arranges the books on the shelf according to its sizes. On the other hand, the four library science students of Brent University possess the qualities and characteristics of the ideal librarian.

Irene Ridpath, leader of the pack, is confident, outspoken and fearless. Boy, do we need librarians like her. Grace Stutz, poised and pretty, daughter of an automobile scion is well organized. She loves working with and for children too. Lodelia Fulwider is proud of her academic preparation. She knows how expensive library resources are so she values preservation and conservation. Geraldine Harrison is the group's technology and innovations expert. Note that these young women carry one or two endearing qualities of a librarian. Peck did not lump them all in one person.

He also knows how costly libraries are so he made the librarians rich not only in the pockets but in their hearts as well. The six hundred dollars annual salary was shared among the four. The job entails a lot of heart and a fullness of spirit. What a positive portrayal of the stereotyped librarian! Idols to emulate, right?

The characters are all works of fiction, products of the imagination. In general, they are reflections and representations of our beliefs and who we want to be. We're not sure how the young reader will turn out to be when he or she reads the novel. One consolation is that, after closing the book's they may hold on to hope. That the future may be strange and unfamiliar, but with role models to look up to, real or imagined, facing up to life's challenges is a part of living it to the fullest.

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