The Great Book-Swapping Machine
NLA Publishing, 2021
40pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99
Late one night, a thing appears in the paddock next to Fabio’s house, way out in the outback where people just drove past without stopping. .
His dad calls it ‘space junk’ and rang the Space Agency to come to take it away. But Fabio figures it is more than just junk and when he opens the hatch and climbs inside he discovers books. Books about the galaxy; big, fat books; books full of poems. On the pilot’s seat is a book called A Daydreamer’s Guide to the Galaxy and he can’t resist taking it home, staying up late into the night reading and learning. Next morning he feels he is ready to fly but when he pulls the big red lever, nothing happens and he throws the book out in disgust. The next morning it is gone – but not too far. The girl from next door is reading it and she hands him one of her books. It is the first of many swaps made among all sots of people, all of whom have to band together to stop the persistent people from the Space Agency from taking the “space junk” away.
This is one of the most enjoyable stories I’ve read and reviewed this year – but then, given its focus, that’s hardly surprising. With its funny, original and imaginative story, whimsical illustrations and an informative fact section, it’s a book about the joys of reading and the importance of community, both of which are dear to my heart. While the usual fact pages at the back of any NLA publication give information about the National Library itself ( a familiar, favourite stomping ground for me) and little street libraries it opens the door to investigating the many different libraries in the world such as The Library of Ashurbanipal, the oldest known in the world, to the packhorse librarians of the Appalachians to their local children’s library and all stops in between.
I adore stories that send me down rabbit holes of discovery and this one has all the elements to do just that.