Help! I’m A Prisoner In The Library! – by Eth Clifford (1979)

Help I'm a Prisoner In The Library

Ten-year-old Mary Rose and 7-year-old Jo-Beth are with their dad, being driven to an aunt’s house, when they run out of gasoline. Dad grabs the gas can and starts walking for the nearest gas station, leaving the girls in the car. When the younger sister Jo-Beth desperately needs a bathroom, they leave the car and walk several blocks to a library. The librarian, who is closing up as they come in, never sees them, and inadvertently locks up the place with the girls still there. And that is how their adventure begins!

I loved this fun, uncomplicated story. The library that the girls are trapped in is actually a hundred-year-old house that’s been converted into a children’s library/museum combo. The unusual sights the girls see during the night keep the story interesting. The story will appeal more to girls than to boys, since the main characters are female. The recommended reading level is 2rd-5th grade, although I think it could easily be enjoyed as a family book read aloud.

The book was first published in 1979, which explains the dated locks on the library door. Apparently the old house/library still had the original¬† skeleton keys on the doors, which meant you literally couldn’t get out the door without the key – a huge safety issue that is no longer allowed with modern building codes. So someone will have to explain to young kids reading this book about the way old locks used to work, which could lead to an interesting discussion about safety. The book has been re-printed many times, and can still be found on Scholastic book-club fliers, in libraries, and on Amazon.

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