"To find out what a story's really about,' the Librarian said,

'you don't ask the writer. You ask the reader."

- SNOW & ROSE by Emily Winfield Martin

Monday, April 7, 2014


The Ninja Librarians #1
by Jen Swann Downey
Expected release date: April 15th, 2014
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky Kids
Genre: Middle Grade - Mystery, Adventure
Format: Hardcover, eBook


Just a little story about your average sword-swinging, karate-chopping, crime-fighting ninja librarians.

Dorrie Barnes had no idea an overdue library book would change her life. 
When Dorrie and her brother Marcus chase her pet mongoose into the janitor's closet of their local library, they accidentally fall through a passage into Petrarch's Library - the headquarters of a secret society of ninja librarians who have an important mission: 
protect those whose words have gotten them into trouble. 
Anywhere in the world and at any time in history.

Dorrie would love nothing more than to join the society. 
But when a traitor surfaces, she and her friends are the prime suspects. 
Can they clear their names before the only passage back to the twenty-first century closes forever?


Why mix Ninjas and Librarians???

Ah yes. Why mix ninjas and librarians? Even as a child, I thought of librarians as fulfilling a sort of sacred magical duty. They were the keepers of the books! The keepers of stories, legends, and great fat tomes full of history's unplumbed secrets. As I got older, I began to also appreciate librarians as important players in the long-term struggle by many to nurture and protect notions about the need for citizens to have access to freely flowing information. They understand well the need to protect books and other writings from those who would suppress or destroy them, and the need to protect the authors of such writings from censorship or punishment.

Once I realized that I wanted my story to revolve around a secret society of librarians, it was terrifically easy to imagine librarians not just as intellectual warriors, but literal ones as well, with only a slightly expanded job description, and only a slightly altered typical day. Hm...something like:  1p.m. - catalogue new arrivals: 2 p.m. - assist a patron to find a book when said patron knows only one word in the title, and the author's middle initial;  2:30 p.m. - excuse one's self from colleagues in order to slip through time in order to help break out an imprisoned "heretical" writer in a different century, an hour before he was scheduled to be burned at the stake. 

The lybrarians of Petrarch's Library are not literally ninjas. They don't wear black hoods (unless that works for a particular mission), and are not members of a feudal Japanese society of mercenaries. They do, however, share with historic ninjas, a high degree of training in secrecy, stealth, and specialized skills useful to attaining their goals. That similarity suggested the strangely elastic modern qualifier of "ninja" for librarian.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR - Jen Swann Downey
Jen Swann Downey's non-fiction pieces have appeared in New York Magazine, the Washington Post, Women's Day, and other publications. 
Her first middle-grade novel, THE NINJA LIBRARIANS, will be published by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, April 1, 2014. 

Jen divides her time between libraries and other places, and will never stop looking for lickable wallpaper.


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