Tuesday, January 26, 2010
A few months ago I had a special treat arrive in my email box. It was an email from a children’s book author. Her name is Carol Carrick and I read her most famous book, ‘Patrick’s Dinosaurs’ when I was studying children’s literature in college.
As I was shelving picture books at work last fall I found a Carol Carrick book I had never seen before. It’s called “Mothers Are Like That” and it’s the precious story of how mothers of all kinds of animals love and care for their babies. It moved me, almost to tears, so when I got home I did some digging online and found an address for Carol Carrick. I quickly typed out a note and stuck it in the mail, telling her how much I loved this book of hers.
It’s a tradition I have started in recent years, knowing how valuable a few words of encouragement can be to most writers. When a book touches me, I do everything I can to send a note to that author. Sometimes I get responses back, sometimes I don’t. And sometimes I find a new friend.
I was thrilled to find Ms. Carrick’s email in my box. Over the next few weeks we had a few chatty exchanges about writing and publishing and life. She shared that she lives at Cape Cod and is still plugging away at manuscripts, hoping to publish another book. I was tickled to find out one of her friends at the Cape is Norman Bridwell, the creator of one of my favorite book characters, Clifford the Big Red Dog. It turns out that he’s as gracious and kind as the fictitious dog he created.
A few weeks after we’d ‘met’ online I had a serendipitous thing happen at work. An adorable little boy with scruffy hair skipped up to the desk as his mother asked if he could get a library card. It’s always fun to give a child his first library card and I eagerly said, “Of course!”
I did the necessary computer work, he signed the little white application card with big block letters. Then he was off to find the first books he would check out with his very own card.
Most kids, knowing there is no limit on the number of books you can check out, go for the big stack. Mom or dad carry the leaning pile to my desk and we start the long process of ‘beeping’ each one of them. But this little boy came back to my desk with one book.
And it was a book I knew very well. My friend Carol Carrick’s book, “Patrick’s Dinosaurs.”
I am sure he found it because of my efforts. Whenever I have the chance I scurry over to the picture book section and put on display all the books written by authors I know personally, from my writers group to accidental friends like Ms. Carrick. As he cruised through the kid’s section I am sure my latest display caught his eye. It still humored me that of all the books he had to pick from, he chose only one. And this specific one.
As he slid it across the counter to me I scooped it up and with wide eyes, I said, "WOW! This is the book you are going to check out? You found one of the best books in our whole library! How did you know this was one of our best books?"
His eyes got big and he just stared back at me.
"This is a really great book and if you love this as much as I think you will, there is another one that tells more stories about Patrick and his dinosaurs."
At this point the kid was a bit overwhelmed with his own good fortune so his mom began speaking for him. I told her all about the sequel to Patrick’s Dinosaurs and the new book Ms. Carrick’s son had just published. Then I mentioned that the author of the book lives not far from us, at the Cape.
Her son snapped to attention and his eyes grew wide.
"I just got back from the Cape!" he said.
"Well you might have had an ice cream cone in the same exact place where this author gets her ice cream cones!"
He as unquestionably amazed.
I had the warmest feeling in my heart as I watched him skip out of the library with his first library book. A book written by my friend. Hopefully the first of many thousands of books he will read in his lifetime.
And it made me see, once again, just how important this writing thing is. There will always be little boys coming into libraries, looking for books to read with their moms and dads.
It’s so important to make sure there are excellent books to pick from each and every time he comes back.