September is Library Card Sign-up Month. Designated as such in 1987 by the Secretary of Education William J. Bennett, the month was set aside to promote opportunities for children to obtain and use library cards. Though Library Card Sign-up Month has existed for nearly 30 years, libraries and librarians have always been important staples in the lives of many, including award-winning authors Bonny Becker and Michelle Knudsen.
“Libraries have always been special to me,” adds Knudsen. “When I was very young, they were cool, quiet places where I could go to find new stories, with seemingly endless options just waiting for someone like me to come and read them. In junior high school, when I worked as a library monitor, I started to become fascinated by some of the behind-the-scenes workings of the library, of all the care and attention that went into shelving and organizing and even the rules that allowed the library to function effectively. I’ve continued to love all of those things about libraries, visiting them as a devoted patron and working in them and helping others to find the things they need.”
With both authors having strong ties to libraries, it is no small wonder that they have incorporated libraries into their books. One of Knudsen’s most loved and popular titles is Library Lion (Candlewick Press, 2006), and this month her newest novel, Evil Librarian (Candlewick Press, 2014) was released.
“Evil Librarian certainly has more darkness than Library Lion,” Knudsen shares, “but they’re both stories that center around strong friendships, and really I think the novel has far more light than darkness in it. It’s also a humorous book, which helps balance out some of the more serious and scary elements. I didn’t start Evil Librarian knowing that it would involve a library, actually. It was one of those books that I just started writing without knowing very much about it at all. But I’m not surprised it ended up involving the library.”
Earlier this summer Becker also released a library-themed book: A Library Book for Bear (Candlewick Press, 2014). Continuing the popular Bear and Mouse series, this book—like Knudsen’s—revolves around happenings in the library.
Though libraries were featured prominently in this year’s titles, it looks like both authors are shelving the theme for now. Knudsen’s newest picture book, Marilyn’s Monster (Candlewick Press), comes out in March 2015. She is currently working on the third book in her middle-grade fantasy trilogy, The Mage of Trelian (Candlewick Press), that is scheduled for release next fall. And Becker has another Mouse and Bear adventure in the works, two picture books coming out soon, and a middle-grade fantasy book that she just finished.
Both Becker and Knudsen maintain busy work schedules that include writing, editing and coaching, presentations, and, of course, library and school visits, but they welcome readers to contact them via email through links on their websites. They warn fans, however, that responses may be delayed. “It can sometimes take me awhile to get back,” says Becker. Knudsen agrees. “Sometimes it takes me a little while!”