Mobile Library by David Whitehouse

Twelve-year-old Bobby Nusku has been having a hard time. He’s a prime target for the school bullies, friends are hard to come by and he and his dad just haven’t been getting along since the accident when his mother disappeared. However, things are set to change.

Bobby may be living with his dad, but he’s really just waiting for the return of his mother. He’s been keeping a special file ready to help her reintegrate into his life. It contains photos, perfumes and make-up, snippets from her old dresses, and other precious remnants. The file also documents everything his dad and his new girlfriend have been up to.

Bobby is great with numbers and places but he’s not so good with people. Then one day he makes friends with Rosa and her mother, Val, who cleans a mobile library. The three of them enjoy a fun-filled summer and spend hours consumed by the amazing adventures contained within the library. But once school is back things don’t go so well, and then bad luck finds Rosa and Val – suddenly the mobile library looks like their only escape.

David Whitehouse has created a fantastical story with Mobile Library. The child inside me had a riotous time reading this book and tagging along for the adventure. There is a strong element of ‘but what if?’ in which ordinary people do the extraordinary and I really enjoyed this, but Whitehouse doesn’t get lost in the fantasy. Bobby’s character grows and matures as his insecurities and fears dissipate and he finds his strengths. The adventure also illustrates to those involved that family can be many things – Bobby always thought he would find family when he found his mother, but he learns that you can choose to be a family too.

Suzanne Steinbruckner works as a bookseller at Readings St Kilda.