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Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians
By Brandon Sanderson (but not really)
Scholastic Press, 2007


This one of those books. I don't know if you read Daniel Pinkwater's Snarkout Boys books, or Stephen Manes' Oscar J. Noodleman series, M.T. Anderson's Whales on Stilts! or Henry Clark's What We Found in the Sofa and How it Saved the World, but you've read one of these... even if it you were so very old that your introduction to random silliness was The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, you know the type. It is, in a word, one of those silly books.

Alcatraz Smedry has had a hard-knock life. He is an orphan, and while he has had quite good luck with his foster families, they have had very bad luck with him. He is accident prone, in the same way that a black hole is gravity prone. On his 13th birthday, shortly after setting the house on fire, he receives a mysterious package from his birth parents. It's only a small bag of sand, but it is followed immediately by a series of unlikely people, who, it emerges, really really like sand.

Thankfully, he has an ally, his grandfather. Having shown up 13 years late, he is determined to... well, technically, abduct Alcatraz and indoctrinate him into a a ragtag band of anti-librarian guerrillas. But in a grandfatherly way. And yes, as indicated in the title, these librarians, as are all librarians, are evil librarians.

It emerges that he, and we, the readers, are living a lie perpetuated by librarians. The real world is much larger, and bigger, and weirder, than we have been led to believe. And sand is really important. Yes, those deserts and beaches you've seen, they were shipped in by the librarians specifically to convince you that sand was common and worthless. That's how cunning librarians are. Get used to it.

Anyway, I could amaze you with unexpected truths for pages, but really, that's what the book is for. I'm just here to help you decide whether or not to read the book. I'm inclined to think you should, as it is fun and silly and full of important truths about librarians. There are some caveats. This is written for younger readers -- perhaps 10 to 15 years old -- and moreover, this is not the best of the silly books for kids currently out there. Whales on Stilts is way funnier, What We Found in the Sofa and How it Saved the World is better written, and nothing Daniel Pinkwater has written will get you hunted down and tortured by evil librarians for possessing forbidden knowledge.

However, if you are interested in counter-librarian propaganda, the good news is that there is a fair amount of it. The adventures of Alcatraz Smedry span four volumes:

  1. Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians
  2. Alcatraz Versus the Scrivener's Bones
  3. Alcatraz Versus the Knights of Crystallia
  4. Alcatraz Versus the Shattered Lens
  5. Also, The Dark Talent
  6. And coming soon, another one (probably) called Bastille vs. the Evil Librarians: The Worldspire.
  7. I think that's all four, but with Alcatraz, you never know.


Oh, and just so you know, Alcatraz lies a lot. So maybe none of this is true.

SFQ 3019