Review: The Ninja Librarians–Sword in the Stacks and Intellectual Freedom

Book Review, Intellectual Freedom Committee

By: Linsey Milillo

Sword in the Stacks (The Ninja Librarians #2) by Jen Swann Downey

Sourcebooks Jabberwocky 

Release date: June 7, 2016
Ninja Librarian Cover Images Now official apprentices of the Lybrariad, Dorris and Marcus have joined Ebba in the immense time-folding labyrinth known as Petrarch’s Library for the Summer Quarter.

Dorrie is eager to do well at her practicums, and prove her worth as an apprentice, but before she can choose between  “Spears, Axes, and Cats: Throwing Objects with Precision and Flair” and “First and Last Aid: When No One Else Is Coming”, mistakes made by Dorrie in the past cause trouble for the lybrarians.

The Foundation, once nearly destroyed by the Lybrariad, now has the means to rise from the ashes, and disappear reading and writing from the world. To make sure it succeeds, the Foundation sets in motion a dark plan to increase the power of a cruel figure from the fifteenth century.

To stop the Foundation, Dorrie, Marcus and Ebba will have to burglarize Aristotle, gather information among the suffragists and anti-suffragists of 1912 London, and risk their lives to wrest a powerful weapon out of the Foundation’s hands – all while upholding the Lybrariad’s first principle of protecting all writing, appreciated or despised. If they fail, reading and writing will only be the first things to disappear.

The concept of intellectual freedom is a driving point for the narrative and provides an extraordinary teaching point for readers of any age. The novel does a great job introducing the principles of intellectual freedom to young readership.  Dorrie and the other apprentices are tasked with learning the Princples of Lybrarianship.  A conversation which was fully explored by the author and supported within the text, its plot and characters. The novel discusses the fundamentals of promoting intellectual freedom and the role of libraries/librarians as the protectors/dessiminators of information–but that we cannot only archive and uphold information conforming to personal ideals.  There is a place for differing opinions and the dialogue that goes along with these points of view.

Overall, this is a fun book for middle grade readers (grades 5 thru 8). There is a great sense of adventure and mystery plus a good deal of humor which will appeal to many young readers. Any history buff or library lover will get a kick out of the premise and the deeper meaning regarding the importance of libraries and intellectual freedom makes this a notable new release.

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