Why, hello. Come right in!
I OPENED A BOOK by Julia Donaldson I opened a book and in I strode Now nobody can find me. I’ve left my chair, my house, my road, My town and my world behind me. I’m wearing the cloak, I’ve slipped on the ring, I’ve swallowed the magic potion. I’ve fought with a dragon, dined with a king And dived in a bottomless ocean. I opened a book and made some friends. I shared their tears and laughter And followed their road with its bumps and bends To the happily ever after. I finished my book and out I came. The cloak can no longer hide me. My chair and my house are just the same, But I have a book inside me. ~ from Crazy Mayonnaisy Mum (Macmillan, 2004).
Now I’m wondering just how many books I’ve actually read in my life so far. I wish I had somehow kept track!
I do like thinking about all the books inside me, after years and years and years of happy reading – books that have widened my world and shaped who I am.
Safe to say you’re probably a fellow bibliophile, and like me, could not imagine a life without books. Many of you have also shared them with kids as parent, teacher, media specialist, or bookseller. Some of you have reviewed, edited, or even written them.
It’s true what they say. The books you read during childhood are the ones that truly stay with you forever. I can’t recall many of the contemporary novels I read long into the night, some of the biographies that proved fascinating at the time, or the oodles of nonfiction research tomes I dutifully mined to quench my thirst for knowledge.
But childhood favorites like The Secret Garden, Little Women, Charlotte’s Web, Anne of Green Gables, the Little House Books, and we can’t forget Ramona Quimby – remain as fresh, moving and magical as when I opened and strode into them for the first time decades ago.
How did I become so bookish?
I wasn’t read to as a child and my parents were more newspaper and magazine readers (except once when my mom joined the Doubleday Book Club – shortlived since she never had time to read what she ordered).
I guess books somehow found me (they have a way of knowing who needs them most). They kept me company while my parents were at work and I had to entertain myself. I spent my 25 cents weekly allowance on Little Golden Books and amassed quite a collection. I treasured the illustrated classics and fairy tale collections I occasionally received as Christmas gifts, and of course the public library was my mecca.
There I discovered the unending kindness of librarians. Introverted and “afraid to ask,” I usually found my own treasures: The Water-Babies, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, The Boxcar Children, The Bobbsey Twins, All-of-a-Kind Family, Strawberry Girl, Caddie Woodlawn, Ginger Pye, And Now Miguel, The Pink Motel.
But one time I really wanted a book my teacher had read to us in class, only I had forgotten the title. So urgent was my need that my mom drove me to the library right after work. She explained my dilemma to the librarian.
“Do you remember what the cover looked like?” she asked me gently.
“There was water and a canoe.”
“Oh, I think I know which one you mean.”
She plucked Call It Courage from the shelf.
“Was it this one?”
“Yes!” How did she know? She had gotten the right book, but couldn’t begin to know how happy she had just made me.
Another time, I was browsing the children’s section, not sure what I was in the mood for. My strolling up and down the rows of shelves in a confused state caught the librarian’s attention.
“Are you looking for something in particular?” (nice smile)
“No.” (still shy)
“Hmmm. Can you name some of books you’ve read recently that you especially liked?”
“Henry Huggins. The Moffats . . . Mrs. Piggle Wiggle.”
“Know what? There’s a new book I think you might like.”
She handed me The Trouble with Jenny’s Ear by Oliver Butterworth.
I was intrigued by the title. I ran home to read. Devoured it. It was so good. I probably loved it even more because someone had picked it out just for me. Again, how did she know? I’ve been in awe of librarians ever since.
There’s no richer feeling than returning home from the library with a bag of books, nothing more exciting than cracking open a much anticipated title for the first time, surely nothing as satisfying as feeling changed by a good book – a shift in consciousness, an unanticipated revelation, emotional resonance that reminds you what it’s like to be human.
As Donaldson’s poem suggests, being transported by a book is both exciting and empowering. Time to put on our cloaks and drink the magic potion.
What are you reading now?
♥️ Enjoy this audio of Julia reading her poem.
🎉 SPINE POEMS GIVEAWAY WINNER! 🎈
Another giveaway!! Another opportunity to bribe Monsieur Random Integer Generator!! Since this was the fourth giveaway so far this fall, it took a little extra ingenuity to charm our dapper, mustached, monocled, erudite friend. He wasn’t tempted by mountains of pies, crates of caviar, or even boatloads of bonbons. Was he getting spoiled or simply reveling in playing hard to get?
Paddington and Mr Cornelius thought long and hard about this. Their powerful bear sense located M. Generator in Seoul, where he was practicing flying yoga with BTS (did I mention he can speak 45 languages?). What could possibly tear him away from this life altering experience?
Hot food. The spicier the better. So, after devouring 5,435 gallons of kimchi, 345 big bowls of ramyeon, and 23,143 pounds of tteokbokki, M. Generator was finally ready to pick the winner of a brand new copy of SPINE POEMS by Annette Dauphin Simon. And it is:
**drum roll, please**
🍁 JAN IWASE!! 🎃
🐻 CONGRATULATIONS, JAN!! 🐿
And thanks to everyone for entering! Another giveaway coming soon. 🙂
Author, poet, voice over artist, and champion cookie baker Matt Forrest Esenwine is hosting the Roundup at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme. Sashay on over to check out the full menu of poetic goodness being served up around the blogosphere this week. Have a good weekend enjoying a fine fall adventure.
*Copyright © 2022 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.