Thursday, 25 April, 2019


Brilliant Readers @Your Library

Tracy Kampa, Children’s Library


They are simply brilliant. Page Turners. My book club kids. I learn from them each time we meet, but last month was a particularly great experience.

We had all read “Henry Reed, Inc.”  It was a cautious choice on my part, as the book was published in 1958, and I hadn’t read it myself since about 1975. I wasn’t sure how well it would translate to today’s literary standards, but I was eager for my book club to read it. Before we could meet, however, I needed to make some major decisions, the most crucial of which was this: what are we going to eat? (You know how it is purported that Napoleon once said the Army marched on its stomach? So does a room full of tweens.)

I like to tie in our snack choices with the book. After some internet searching, I chose to serve Pizza Hut pizza and Cocoa Puffs cereal. The kids were stymied by my choices this month, even after I gave them the perplexing clue of “our snacks have nothing to do with the story, but everything to do with the book.” Figured it out yet?  Well, as it turns out, Pizza Hut opened its first restaurant, Cocoa Puffs cereal began production, and “Henry Reed, Inc.” was published, all in 1958.

Food, ready, project, ready, (we made journals because our book was written in journal format – not as fun as when we made brush-bots, but still a pretty good time) let the fun begin! Some of the kids were surprised when I told them how old the book was; the only build-up I had given them was that the book was “funny.” The age of the book lead to a discussion on what would be the same and what would be different if the book was published now. First, we did a little math. That 25 cents that a fisherperson paid Henry for his dozen worms would be the same as about $2.25 per dozen today. Everybody agreed that that seemed reasonable. We played around with other money amounts from the book, and were most impressed by the fact that Henry and Midge had made over $360 each during their summer vacation!

The real conversation, though, centered around how the book might be different if it were written today. The book clubbers easily pointed out several examples of stereotypes that probably wouldn’t be found in a book published today. Laughing uncontrollably when a “fat woman” fell into the pond probably wouldn’t be tolerated. Several book clubbers, though, acknowledged that they thought that that was a really funny scene. After discussion, mostly among themselves, they decided that it was funny because they author wrote it as humorous, but that if that scene happened in front of them, they thought their response would be to help.  It also would be unacceptable in a children’s book for an adult to lie to get out of a predicament. That situation was just wrong, they decided, but they did have great empathy for the characters.

“Many people describe this book as timeless,” I said. “What do you suppose they mean by that?” They puzzled on that one for a bit, tossing ideas back and forth. Finally, they decided that a timeless book was one in which the humor could translate throughout time. Some things are just funny, they proposed, regardless of if it happened today or 60 years ago. I asked them what books they are currently reading that they would define as timeless. Harry Potter, for sure, they agreed, and also Percy Jackson. While those series aren’t humorous, they argued, the funny parts in them will still be funny a long time from now. I asked them if there were any books that they enjoyed today that maybe wouldn’t be timeless? They agreed that while they found “The Diary of a Wimpy Kid” series to be really funny today, they thought that people in the future might not.

Thanks, Page Turners, for another great hour of book discussion and laughter. And thanks for being simply brilliant. My future looks good in your thoughtful, concerned, hands.



This Week at Your Library

Monday, April 1, at 9:30 and 10:30 it’s Book Time! Join ECFE teachers in the Story Circle for books, songs, finger plays, flannel board stories, and all other sorts of fun! Then move to the Community Room for a snack, a craft, and a time to play and visit.

Thursday, April 4, at 6:00, please join us for a Crucial Conversations for Aging Info Session. Learn more about the upcoming discussion series for adults ages 55+. Explore how you can create joy, purpose, and life satisfaction during retirement. Bring questions and see if it’s right for you!

Saturday, April 6, 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.