Triss’ acting class is next door to a used bookstore. I had to bring her sisters tonight, and we spent the hour looking at books. I headed straight to the educational things as if compelled, thinking, “Do you *really* want to look at shelves that remind you of things you are not doing? Why not find something enjoyable to read instead?” As I struggled to walk away, Cornflower approached me with a Borrowers book.
“Can we get this?” She asked. “It’s only fifty cents.”
It was a thick book, thicker than she normally likes. She’s just eight, and does enjoy chapter books, but only slim chapter books. I looked into her face and was surprised to see her eagerness.
She is the kind of girl that enjoys clothes and hairdos and nail polish. She had had the same look on her face last night while begging me to give her an old container of eye shadow. I didn’t really think of her as a big reader, although she does enjoy books. She is more of a dolly and dress-up and active kind of girl. Recently, she had asked me several times to pick out some of our own books that would be good reads for her, and I had rejoiced to see her interest.
But I didn’t realize she had developed taste. Usually when we go to bookstores I spend the time telling her, “No, we are not buying a Dora the Explorer/Disney/Scooby Doo book,” or else trying to ignore her choices as she pulls ‘marketing ploy’ books off the shelf to read while in the store. Rather impressed, I said, “Sure, we can get this book!”
She handed it to me and walked off.
Turning from the educational section to the section on writing, I found a book I had wanted for two years, and sat down to enjoy it. It started out every bit as good as I had thought it would be. About halfway through the first chapter, Cornflower approached again.
“Mom, look what I found!”
She had a couple of other books. One was a reprint of an old book about a doll, the most wonderful doll in the world, it said. It looked promising. The other was a retelling of Gulliver’s Travels. It was abridged, but hey! she was recognizing classics. They were fifty cents apiece. Quality *and* thrift! Gotta love it.
“Where are you finding these?” I asked.
She led me to the clearance cart. I began going through one side, she went to the other, and in a moment, handed me a book through the cart. “Look at this one, Mom!” It was an abridgement of Heidi.
“It’s abridged, honey, but that is such a nice picture on the cover.”
“Here, Mom. Look at this one.” It was a retelling of Sherlock Holmes mysteries. “And look!” A thin Scholastic of one of the Orphan Train books.
I was finding a lot of junk on my side. I went to hers. It was full of junk, too. She was culling through the twaddle to pull out more acceptable titles. Eight years old.
She found a book by Astrid Lindgren and another little Scholastic book that looked pretty good for an easier chapter book. “Can we get all these?”
Well… I didn’t really want to spend the money, but look at the girl, full of hope and desire for good things. “Sure!”
We carried our finds to a couple of library stepstools and sat down. “Mom—can I get you a basket?” she asked. “Please, please, please!” she added under her breath.
I started laughing. I couldn’t help it. “Yes. A basket is just what I need. How thoughtful.”
She proudly went off to procure that Shopper’s Badge. She is such a girl.
When she came back, she sat down and laid her head on my shoulder. I read my excellent book, she read hers, and I realized it doesn’t get much better than this.
(Note: I asked the cashier if he had heard about CPSIA and he said, yes, that they had removed all the pre-1985 childrens books and were storing them in a central warehouse-- the bookstore is part of a chain-- until someone figures out what to do with them. He said that he expects they will have a huge sale on pre-1985 childrens' books eventually-- after the law gets fixed, he said. I didn't think to ask if they were accepting pre-1985 books, but they probably are not. A couple of the books Cornflower picked out were copyrighted previous to 1985, but I don't know how to tell what year a book was printed, so I don't know if we might have gotten some that slipped through the cracks. I would look them over more closely, but she is very attached to her books and has taken them all to bed with her.)
(Updated to add this link to a blog written by a Half-Price Books employee who had to personally pull all suspect books from her store's shelves a few weeks ago. Half-Price Books is the store referred to in my story above.)