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I wasn’t sure Wise enjoyed the book signing we attended last night. He sat quietly throughout the event, paging through his copy of William Joyce‘s Ollie’s Odyssey.
But the first thing he’d said to me when I picked him up from school was, “Mama, an author came to school today. He’s going to be signing books at Laurelwood tonight. He has books for kids my age and Hoot’s age.”
So we went. The seats were nearly full, mostly with adults. Hoot and Josh went off to play in the kids’ area. A couple offered Wise a chair, but he wouldn’t sit. He seemed terrified. Finally I got him to sit, and he didn’t say another word. When Joyce finished, Wise jumped into line to get his book signed.
Afterwards, we asked him, “Did you enjoy it?”
“Were you listening to what Mr. Joyce said?”
Wise is not a one-word guy. I thought maybe he’d been bored and didn’t want to tell us since we’d thrown off our evening for this. Wise doesn’t like to disappoint people.
We left for school this morning and were a block away when he said, “Do you think I was the only kid from my class there last night?”
It wasn’t that crowded, but apparently Wise hadn’t noticed anyone around him.
“I think you might have been,” I told him. “And Daddy saw Mrs. Payne, your teacher.”
“Yes. Daddy told me that. I can’t believe I was the only kid from my class who got a book signed.”
“Do you like the book?”
A look of horror spread over his face. “I forgot to bring the book today!”
“Oh, well, you can bring it tomorrow.”
He began to cry. We rushed home to get it.
And thus began the monologue on William Joyce’s life.
“Isn’t it amazing he started out as a kid who drew crazy things but now people like his pictures? You know how William Joyce is an author and he makes movies? He gets to be two things! I want to be three things. When I grow up I want to make books, movies, and comics.”
I told him I’d checked out Joyce’s Twitter page and he was asking for pictures of people’s beloved stuffed animals.
“Take a picture of Big Monkey for him. Big Monkey can wear his bow tie, but don’t make him put that vest back on. He says it’s itchy and makes him hot.”
Apparently Wise needed twelve hours to process the experience.
As for me, Joyce’s relationship with his school librarian stood out. I don’t want to steal the thunder of his story if any of my three readers have the chance to see him. But the story captured for me the reasons I’m so glad I have my job. Librarians obviously have to follow school rules, but freed from the strict disciplinary functions of the principal and the need to hand out grades like the teachers, we can feed dreams.
Wise has a school librarian who does that. She’s understood him since kindergarten and while I’ve loved his teachers, Mrs. S has been a consistent presence for him for three years now, setting aside books and encouraging his annoying…I mean, charming, obsession with early American history.*
Wouldn’t it be great if such people were available for everyone, for our entire lives?
* I may have a PhD in the field, but I never wanted to groom a history buff.