The Book Crook

by Libby Hartwell. Shortlistee of the Best Chapter Book for 5-8-year-olds competition 2024


The Book Crook is a first-in-series chapter book, perfect for 5-7-year-olds and complete at 7500 words.

Solving book crime–one nibble at a time.

Book Bot, the library robot and Bo, a hungry bookworm share a passion for books. But something is wrong in the library. Peril and jeopardy are being replaced with sweet and fuzzy inside every Storytime book. The brave duo work tirelessly to solve the mystery and save the thrill and excitement of adventure stories.

Chapter One

Behind the counter in Pepperton’s library, Book Bot was busy. Labelling books. Beep. Brushing shelves. Beep. Dusting books, sorting books, stroking books. Beep. His antenna zinged with the booky smells that filled his sensors.

Mhhh, he thought, lifting his head. His letterbox mouth pulled into a smile as he gazed around. Books lined every shelf that zig-zagged across the library. Cosy chairs and tables filled gaps between the shelves.

‘Stamp these, BB,’ said the librarian, putting a pile of books onto the counter.

Book Bot’s smile faded. He stretched out a springy arm and lifted the top book. No-one ever uses my proper name, he thought. He glanced down at the two B’s pressed into his metal chest.


The library door swung open and hit the wall. Three children skipped in, their parents trying to keep up behind them.

‘Incoming,’ muttered the librarian.

‘Meep,’ beeped Book Bot, ‘It’s almost Storytime.’ A tingle twanged in his coils as he checked the clock.

Every afternoon at half past three a storyteller visited the library. And here he was. Book Bot’s smile returned as he watched the storyteller stride through the door and past the counter, heading for the story corner−Book Bot’s best, most favourite place in the whole library.

Book Bot stamped the books in a flurry of excitement until the Storytime bell rang.


With a zip, Book Bot swung out from behind the counter. He rolled past the map section, wheeled around the history books and zapped between the poetry shelves.

‘Meep!’ he beeped, stopping at the back of the story corner. His eyes flashed as he took in the scene.

The storyteller sat on a worn wooden chair under the window. Children wriggled on the mat in front of him and jostled on beanbags.

‘Let Storytime begin,’ the storyteller announced in a deep voice.

The children sat up and silence filled the air. Book Bot watched as the storyteller swept back his yellow scarf and lifted a book.