Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Saturdays at Lockwood

She remembers long Saturday afternoons spent in Lockwood Library: Mom at the copier with piles of coins, sister claiming the best of the blocky chairs available. The options were limited. Ride the elevator up and down, up and down. Run out to the vending machines, having first snatched a quarter from her mother's towering pile. Quarter in, press F8, curly-cue swivels around, out pops frosted nut brownie.

Or there were the stacks.

Mostly, she spent time in the stacks. The one row of children's books, mostly books that sported shiny gold Newbery stickers. Somehow she got her hands on a bookmark that listed all the Newbery award winners, and she decided she would read them. Some of her favorite books were Newberies: A Wrinkle in Time, Tuck Everlasting, Bridge to Terabithia, The Westing Game, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. She thinks she read these books long before those Saturday afternoons, though. They were quickly joined by Summer of the Swans, My Side of the Mountain, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, The Great Gilly Hopkins, A Ring of Endless Light.

She remembers, though, mostly spending those afternoons with E.L. Konigsburg. Oh, they weren't on a first-name basis, but nevertheless, she became great friends with Claudia and Jamie, wishing more than anything that she could stay in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, that she could go to an automat (What was an automat, anyway?). She thrilled to the sound of Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth. She gobbled up About the B'nai Bagels, while developing A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver. She even became Father's Arcane Daughter for a while.

But she could only read those books so many times before she would dutifully return to her Newbery list, wanting to check another one off her bookmark. But some Newbery books she just couldn't get into. She would try one, then another, but the stack of Newbery books that didn't interest her grew and grew, and she would return to her trusted friend, E.L.

Last week, at the school book fair, she came across used copies of some of those Newbery books that she hadn't read those many years ago. Now's the time, she thinks, and shells out her quarters for several, determined to give them their due.

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