The Little Library (Mr. Tiffin's Classroom)

by Margaret McNamara (Author) G Brian Karas (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade
Mr. Tiffin and his students from the perennially popular How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin? and The Dinosaur Expert are back in this picture book about a wood-working project that helps a young student become a book lover. Everyone in Mr. Tiffin's class couldn't be more excited that the new school library has finally opened. Everyone except Jake. Jake is a slow and careful reader. Sometimes he reads the same page more than once to figure everything out. And he often feels left behind on class Library Day. All that changes when Librarian Beck notices Jake running his fingers across the grooves of a brand-new bookshelf and offers him an old, worn book: Woodworking for Young Hands. Jake checks the book out, studies the pictures and instructions, and renews the book again and again. When the school year comes to an end, Jake has the perfect gift idea for the librarian who changed his life--and he makes it with his own two hands.
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School Library Journal

Gr 1-2—Mr. Tiffin's class visits the new library at school and meets Librarian Beck. While the students excitedly explore, Jake feels out of place and wanders to a shelf where he "studied the bookcase to see how the pieces fit together. He ran his finger along the grooves in the wood." The astute Librarian Beck brings him Woodworking for Young Hands and Jake immediately recognizes many of the pictured tools from his grandfather's workshop. The librarian assures him that even books with many pictures count as reading. Jake slowly begins to read and take notes, while the librarian allows him to continue to renew the book and finds other similar titles for Jake. When the school year draws to a close and all books must be returned, Jake uses his woodworking skills to build with a little library where students can share books all summer. A brief note at the end describes the Little Free Library program. The realistically drawn gouache-and-pencil drawings depict the multicultural class alongside their supportive teacher and librarian, whose pronouns are they/them. VERDICT Gently illustrating that every book has its reader, this story of a reluctant reader assisted by a helpful and welcoming librarian is another solid addition to Mr. Tiffin's classroom series.—Ramarie Beaver, formerly at Plano P.L., TX

Copyright 2021 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

Praise for The Little Library:

"A standout. Not only does Librarian Beck offer Jake compassionate encouragement... they also present as nonbinary with they/them pronouns and clothing and hairstyling that resist strict gender norms. The matter-of-fact inclusion of this character is groundbreaking." -Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Praise for The Dinosaur Expert:

A pivotal moment in a child's life, handled with grace and sensitivity rather than conflict or ineffective lecturing.—Kirkus, starred review

A beautifully crafted picture book.—Booklist, starred review

This story is illustrated with great care and attention to detail from page one, and the text and artwork work together in harmony to bring home powerful messages about gender equality, evolving to improve, and being careful with the feelings of others.—School Library Journal, starred review
Margaret McNamara
Margaret McNamara is the author of the Robin Hill School series, and she gets many ideas from her daughter's own school experiences. She lives in New York City.

Mike Gordon illustrates the Robin Hill School series and has an extensive and varied background in illustration and design. He lives with his family in Santa Barbara, California.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Schwartz & Wade Books
Publication date
March 23, 2021
Mr. Tiffin's Classroom
BISAC categories
JUV039060 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | Friendship
JUV035000 - Juvenile Fiction | School & Education
JUV039140 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance
Library of Congress categories
Picture books
Books and reading

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