Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Two Naomi's - by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich & Audrey Vernick

I found this novel on the free book exchange shelf at my library. The back blurb indicated that "Naomi Marie starts clubs at the library..." so I took it home to read. It turned out that there was actually quite a bit about libraries in this story of two ten-year olds named Naomi whose parents are dating.

The first page of the story opens with Naomi Marie at her local branch of the New York Public Library talking to librarian Ms. Starr about her new club (Bored? Bored Games!) which appears not to be as popular as Naomi Marie had hoped. Naomi Marie uses the verb "sparkle" when describing how Ms. Starr speaks to her "which must be something they teach in library school" Naomi Marie thinks because her mother, a school librarian, "is like that too, especially ...when she talks about Tom."

Naomi Marie thinks about the library a lot. Even while she's at the beach she's thinking about what books she needs to check out next. And she imagines herself there "accidentally in purpose" pulling up the computer game she and Naomi Edith are creating in order to impress the kids in the Teen Gamez Crew. The adventure game requires the player to use different skills to navigate through different worlds, including naming three Coretta Scott King Book Award Winners and a Newberry. The two Naomis' parents had enrolled both of them in the in the the Girls Gaming the System workshop at the Y, without telling them, in the hopes that it would help them become friends. Their plan turned out to have mixed results. Ultimately everyone learns that just because parents may make unpopular decisions, and are a bit dorky, it doesn't make them bad people.

Naomi Marie really makes good use of the library including placing books on hold. She is excited to be able to walk there with Naomi Edith to pick up the book on "making your old clothes into new ones" that is waiting for her. It is a bit ironic that Naomi Marie's best friend Xiomara (aka Xio) is so uninterested in the library that she needs to be bribed by her parents into going there with a sleepover at Naomi Marie's house.

This is a sweet tale with believably-flawed characters. I read it in an day and allowed myself to bask in some nostalgia about how proud I used to feel as a child when I finished a chapter book.

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