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"Arthur's Lost Library Book"
Season/Series: 1
Number in season: 4b
Original Airdate: United States October 10, 1996[1]
Canada January 9, 1997[2]
Germany December 12, 2001[3]
Written by: Joe Fallon
Storyboard by: Jean Lajeunesse
"D.W.'s Imaginary Friend"
"Arthur's Pet Business"
Read transcript

"Arthur's Lost Library Book" is the second half of the fourth episode in the first season of Arthur.


Everyone loves the Scare-Your-Pants-Off Club series, and the new book, "The Mysterious Hand", is coming out. Arthur is the first to borrow it (along with many other books at the same time), but when he collects the library books scattered around the house, he can not find the Scare-Your-Pants-Off book. He later teams up with Binky to look for it.


Arthur is at the library and talks to the viewers about the great things the library has to offer, such as music to listen to, puppet shows for children, and books for everybody. He sees his friends looking through books they are interested in. Brain is looking at a book about science, Francine is looking at a book on sports, and Buster is reading a joke book. He tries a joke on Arthur, which makes them both giggle. Arthur loves being in the library, but remembers one time when he thought they would not let him enter the library again. However, he says this a bit too loud, and someone shushes him from off-screen.

Arthur's Lost Library Book

A rather ugly-looking hand reaches out and takes out a book from a shelf. A mysterious voice narrates the first chapter of the story: 'Arthur goes to the library'.

Arthur and his friends arrive at the library to check out some books. Arthur sees various books that interest him, and takes them out. Francine suggests he should just take one, but Arthur disagrees. At the front desk, he begins to check out, when Ms. Turner tells Arthur he is able take one more, and shows him the new Scare-Your-Pants-Off book titled "The Mysterious Hand". At this moment, the other kids see it and run toward it, but Arthur gets the first sprint and grabs the book before they can. The kids try to convince Arthur to give it to them, but he checks it out and prepares to go home. The others, however, continue to chase him, and they bring up the fact that he had taken out too many books already. Arthur insists he does not have too many books, and that everyone is just jealous because he got to the "Mysterious Hand" first. He leaves on his bike, leaving his friends depressed. While riding home, Arthur rides under a low tree branch, which knocks the top book, "The Mysterious Hand", off the stack, unbeknownst to him. The book lands on the sidewalk. An unidentified kid then comes by and picks up the book.

The ugly hand appears again, tears seven days off a calendar and the voice announces the second chapter: 'One Week Later'.

Jane is putting clothes in the washing machine and finds one of Arthur's misplaced library books; she tells Arthur to be more careful with them.

Later, in the tree house, Arthur and Buster are trading cards, until Buster notices one of Arthur's books next to the wall. Arthur forgot ever putting it there. Buster asks if he liked "The Mysterious Hand", which Arthur completely forgot he had. Buster reminds him that there is a waiting list for that book once it is returned.

At home, Arthur finds many other books that he misplaced, but has not found "The Mysterious Hand". Arthur looks around the entire house, but still cannot find the book anywhere. David tells him that he did not have that book when he brought his books home. Arthur believes that one of the kids took it while he was leaving the library and goes to call Buster for help. He stops himself, for he realizes that Buster is a suspect; everyone is. Arthur then realizes that there is one kids who would not have taken the book: Binky, who does not like to read. At school, Arthur asks Binky to help him find the book. Binky accepts, and they go off to find the book.

The voice from the horrid hand is heard again, proclaiming the third chapter: 'The Investigation'.

Arthur's friends and classmates get scared and scream when Binky and Arthur confront them. The two search their classmates for the book and resort to spying on those who are reading, but find that none of them have it.

Later in The Sugar Bowl, Arthur tells Binky that he has narrowed the suspects down to Buster, Francine, and Sue Ellen. Binky did not have any luck, for everyone ran from him. Arthur has Binky focus on his own suspects, and he himself will focus on his.

Arthur continues to figure out the mystery at art class. He draws a picture of "The Mysterious Hand" book and shows it to Sue Ellen. She likes it and shows him the actual book, which she had in her backpack. Arthur accuses her of stealing it and tries to take it from her, but he backs off when Sue Ellen explains that, since Arthur had taken out the library's only copy, she bought her own.

Later, Francine tells Arthur that she did not take the book, for Muffy told her that Arthur thinks she took it (Muffy overheard Arthur and Binky at The Sugar Bowl). Francine says she thinks Arthur just lost the book.

Binky is still at work and is telling George to "hand it over", but will not say exactly what he is asking for. Arthur comes and says Binky should tell the others what he is looking for, but Binky thinks that if they have it, they should know what he is talking about. He then goes to check another student. Buster arrives and tells Arthur that, according to Francine, Arthur thinks he took the book. Arthur says Buster did want the book. Just like Francine, Buster thinks Arthur simply lost it. Arthur disagrees, saying that he looked everywhere. Buster thinks that Giant Mutant Mole People may have stolen the book, which Arthur finds ridiculous. We zoom down and see that the mole people are real, but they did not take the book. Buster then declares that Arthur better find the book soon, because there are many people wanting to check it out.

The hideous hand appears again and pulls back a curtain, informing the audience about the fourth chapter: 'It's lost, okay? Face it, you lost it.'

Arthur is having a nightmare in bed. In it, Arthur is hiding in the house from creepy-looking beings that are outside. Just then, the police tell him to give up the lost book. Suddenly, the door swings open and Arthur runs away from an extremely and literally long "arm of the law", that extends out and grabs him. It pulls him out of the house, across the sky, and drops him in front of the library's front desk. There, Ms. Turner informs Arthur that they give special rules to those who lose library books. Arthur has a second nightmare: Jane and David are in the hall, and see a chain leading to his room. They follow the chain and see that it is connected to a book Arthur is reading. He tells his parents he now has to check out library books this way. All of a sudden, the chain is pulled, and Arthur is pulled along with it. It turns out Ms. Turner is turning a crank which pulls the chain. Arthur ends up at the front desk again and Ms. Turner warns him not to make her use the crank next time. Arthur then wakes up from his nightmare, screaming.

That morning, Arthur is poking his spoon around his cereal rather than eating, and D.W. remarks that he is not going to find the book in his cereal. David then tells Arthur that he will have to pay for the lost book. Arthur complains that he could have bought "three action figures" with the $15 the book costs, before groaning over his bad luck.

Arthur then returns all the books to the library; when Ms. Turner asks if he enjoyed them, Arthur answers that he did, except the one he lost: "The Mysterious Hand." He then says, "I guess I have to pay for it." However, Ms. Turner reveals that the book was found, and Binky just returned it.

Arthur rushes to Binky and asks him who had the book. He answers that it was someone from school, and finally admits that it was himself. This has Arthur laughing, for he thinks Binky is joking. He asks again, and Binky reaffirms that it was him. Binky then explains that he found the book on the sidewalk and started reading it, and it was really good. He further explains that he did not know it was the same book that Arthur lost (because Arthur would never throw library books on the ground), but when he knew that everyone else didn't have it, Binky figured the book he found might be the one Arthur was looking for after all. Arthur asks why he did not tell him, to which Binky claims that he would have laughed at him. Arthur denies this, but Binky comments on how he just did; Arthur apologizes, but Binky warns him not to tell anybody that he enjoys reading books.

Arthur goes back into the library and asks Ms. Turner if he can renew "The Mysterious Hand" since he did not read it the first time. To his disappointment, Ms. Turner tells him he cannot yet, for there is a long waiting list.

A shadow of the hand appears once again and tells the viewers that it is the end of the story. We then see that it was D.W. wearing rubber monster gloves and speaking into a cardboard tube the whole time.






  • This is the first appearance of the Scare-Your-Pants-Off Club books and the inside of The Sugar Bowl (The Sugar Bowl's exterior was seen in "Arthur and the Real Mr. Ratburn").
  • This is the first time George speaks (he only says "Huh?" and "What?"). He will not have a substantial role until "Arthur's Dummy Disaster."
  • Binky's love of reading books while pretending to hate reading is first shown here.
  • This is the first episode where Sue Ellen's name is mentioned
  • The cold open was included on the sample VHS included with the Microsoft ActiMates TV Pack
  • Arthur is later seen reading The Mysterious Hand in the episode D.W.'s Perfect Wish, hinting he either got to check it out again after the waiting list ended or he went to the book store and bought his own copy.
  • Despite being only the eighth aired episode segment of the series, the art style of this episode heavily suggests it was produced late in the season. The biggest signs are the lack of Muffy's buck teeth, the characters' tongues being colored pink instead of white, and Arthur and D.W.'s complexions being a slightly lighter shade of brown. This is the first episode in broadcast order with all of these characteristics, which become more common towards the end of Season 1, and were made permanent in Season 2.
  • In April 2024, PBS Kids rereleased this episode and 18 other titles with the addition of an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter on screen, allowing individuals who are deaf or hard-of-hearing to fully immerse themselves in the program. For more information about all of the ASL-interpreted episodes, see American Sign Language.

Episode connections


  • When Arthur's mom is first seen in his second nightmare, her hair is a brighter color.
  • When Arthur has his second nightmare where he is dragged through the hallways of his house by a chain, you can see his foot going through one of the walls of his house very briefly.

Storyline analysis

  • Arthur goes to call Buster, who he is known for his detective skills, although Buster is not shown as a detective until the episode "Arthur Accused!". This suggests several episodes in the first season were aired out of order than originally intended.

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