Library day at school. I always loved that day of the week when I was little, didn’t you? You turn in the amazing adventure from last week then wander the rows of shelves, carefully deciding what your adventure for the next week would be. Ooh, I get shivers just remembering the potential of that moment, little me standing at the bookshelf with my hand outstretched, almost almost almoooost touching the new world I’d disappear into this week but not yet. Oh, the potential.
My sons have library day at their school, of course. Different days, since they’re in different classes. Last week, one of my boys was floundering. He’d returned a book that hadn’t done much for him, he’d wandered around sighing and poking at books that didn’t do much to excite him about the coming week. He’s a voracious reader who’d ripped through the Harry Potter books in the first months of third grade, so he loves fictional adventure as much as his mother, but the shelves he was looking through weren’t calling to him. They weren’t holding out a helping of fictional wow like candies on a platter. Not for him. He’d limply picked up something below his reading level that a year or two ago would’ve had him rushing to the checkout desk to check it out and to class to read it and thinking, “Ooh, yes.” Instead, he stood there with it, his body saying, “Eh. Okay.” Apparently he’d gone through this same “Eh. Okay.” experience the week before. And oddly, the week before that.
I had no idea his weekly ritual was playing out this way because he was reading different books at home, books that was excited about and so I thought he was Library Day happy. His teacher picked up on it, though. She spotted him this week, going through the same sulky, mindless poking she’d seen the two previous Library Days, so she hunched her shoulder over playfully to make herself small, tiptoed to a shelf near him, then whispered his name. He looked over. She covered her lips in the universal “shh” sign then crooked her finger, beckoning him over to the shelf. She slid a light blue hardcover from the shelf, one of those ancient-looking library editions. “Look at this book,” she whispered, widening her eyes as if she’d just found a gold coin under a leaf. The Indian in the Cupboard. “My sons loved this book,” she said. My son leaned closer. She turned the cover of the book to face him. “You see that little Indian guy there on the cover? The tiny one?” She pointed. “He comes to life.” My son gasped. He plucked the book from her hands, flipped it over, and scanned the description on the back. His head snapped up, his eyes sparking. “I want to get this one.” “You can. I think you will love it,” she said.
But my son didn’t hear her.
He was already gone.
He was at the checkout desk, bouncing on his toes trying to see how long the line ahead of him was and gauging how fast it was moving, the light blue ancient-looking parcel fairly tingly in his hands. Hurry, hurry, he whispered. His adventure for the week was waiting.