Friday, 14 December, 2018


Harbor Me @ Your Library

Tracy Kampa, Children’s Library

As the temperature starts to fall, and the promise of a second summer fades, the realities of winter become as inescapable as the outlines of bare branches against grey sky. We are entering my season of dread: the time between the last days of the smell of leaves on the ground, and our first day of below zero temperatures. On that first below zero day, I walk outside, and remember. Oh, right! This isn’t so bad, I can handle this. Up until then, a vague foreboding shadows me.

One of the best ways I know to battle that dread is to get out in the middle of it all. Go outside, take a walk, kick some leaves or build a snow sculpture (depending on ground cover, which could change by the hour.) Go, play, because if you’re already stuck in the house it’s going to be a long winter. (If you invite cabin fever in December, it will be a decidedly unwelcome houseguest by March.)

My second favorite way to combat the dark of the season is by finding a good book, and escaping. I like to recreate the days when I could curl up with a book and, upon reading the last words, be startled that I was still in my yellow bedroom, when just moments before I had been on the prairie battling a blizzard, or was reeling from Johnny’s death after the church fire. (Stay gold, Ponyboy.)  While that escape is not as easy to find as it once was, that is the fault of my adult life nudging my brain, not the material. So I like to recreate the scene: curling up on my bed with my favorite blanket, maybe a bowl of popcorn and a glass of ice water, and I’m ready to shut out the world and enjoy a book. Which I do, after I wake up from the inevitable nap that happens first.

The writer Jacqueline Woodson’s words have the ability to not only fill my heart, but my brain as well. (If you haven’t read Woodson’s “Brown Girl Dreaming,” please carve out some time for yourself and read it.) Curled up under my blanket, popcorn at the ready, I eagerly opened the cover of her brand-new book, “Harbor Me.”

Oh. My.  The premise is simple: six kids are given time each Friday afternoon to talk to one another, no adults present. The reader experiences these talks through the eyes of 12-year-old Haley, who is harboring deep concerns of her own. We eventually hear all of their stories, and, even though the novel is decidedly fiction, these stories could be taken directly from the pages of the New York Times. By the end of the book, I was simultaneously cheering for this group while shaking my head. What are we doing to our children?

Ultimately, this book is about connections; simply put, we need one another, and in ways that are not always apparent. While “Harbor Me” is fraught with family and personal drama, this group responds to one another with empathy, and, eventually, understanding. I am privileged to see young people like this every day, and I believe the future looks bright in their hands, if we adults don’t irrevocably screw it up first. Read “Harbor Me.” Just read it.


This Week at Your Library:

Monday, November 12: The library is closed in honor of Veteran’s Day.

Tuesday, November 13: At 6:00, join us for "I'm My Own Person" -The Persistence of Self in Persons with Dementia with Anne-Marie Erickson & Dr. Sylvia Olney. Hear brief excerpts from essays and participate in a conversation about dementia with a writer and a medical anthropologist. Are those living with dementia really “gone” or is there a persistent sense of self that remains?

Saturday, November 15: At 10:15 and 11:15 it’s time for Saturday Story Time! Join ECFE teachers in the Story Circle for books and songs, then move to the Community Room for a snack, a craft, and a time to play and visit. Families may earn one Baby Steps coupon for attending this Story Time.

Saturday, November 15: Happy Na-No-Wri-Mo! (National Novel Writing Month.) To support the idea of writing an entire novel in a month, the library will open the Big Riverview room to writers of all genres on Saturdays in November. Come on in and let the views of the mighty Mississippi inspire the next great American novel!