“It’s a library card,” he explained.
I tried to pay attention. He talked about these things called “borrowing procedures” and “lending privileges”. I was too excited. He gave me a small yellow card with my name on it. I didn’t see a card. I saw a key. I couldn’t wait to find out what it would unlock. There was so much to discover, and I wanted to read it all, every book they would let me get my hands on.
* * * * *
One city block. I live one city block away from the public library. Am I the luckiest kid in the world or what? Summer days with nothing but time, I cross the street with that little yellow card in one hand and my canvas book bag in the other. Heavy oak doors at the top of the steps creak when they open like iron gates.
He’s standing at his usual spot behind the desk today. I’m curious if he ever moves. Maybe he even sleeps there standing up. You never can tell with grownups. They can be odd at times.
“Good day, Miss Lily.” He looks down his nose at me past his glasses. “Does your mother know you’re here?”
Mr. B asks me this every day. I think he wonders if I’m an orphan. “Yes, Sir.” I’m not sure. This may be a fib. It may not. It depends on if my mother has found the note I left for her. She’s never gotten mad at me before and, let’s face it, there are worse places I could be hanging out.
I wander through dwarf sized aisles searching for an adventure I haven’t read yet. Checking out books from the grownups section is not permitted for someone my age. Someday I’ll be old enough. Until then, there’s plenty here to explore.
A, B. B is for Baum. Follow the yellow brick road. C, D, E, F, G. G is for Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss. “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” H, I, J, K. K is for Kellog. Apparently Jimmy’s Boa ate the wash. It’s funny. But I’ve already read it ten times. L, M. M is for Maurice, Sendak that is. Just where are the wild things? Imagine the fun we could have. N, O, P. P is for Potter, Beatrix of course. Oh, Peter, when will you ever learn? Q, R, S. S is for Silverstein. If I were Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout, I’d be in a load of trouble. T, U, V. V is for Viorst. Could a day really be all that bad? Personally, I don’t think Alexander knew how good he had it. W, X, Y, Z.
What’s that on the new book shelf? The cover is shiny, but that shouldn’t factor into my decision. A book of world records. Not fiction. This is real. It’s crazy what people have done. My head is spinning. Oh, the possibilities.
Real or imagined,
I’m in the world that I love,
lost in the pages of a good book.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
The Day Jimmy’s Boa Ate the Wash by Trinka Hakes Noble and Steven Kellogg
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter
Where the Sidewalk Ends: Poems and Drawings by Shel Silverstein
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst and Ray Cruz