Meg Cabot often talks about how when she was a child she used to spend summers reading in her local air conditioned library. I used to do the same thing and as a result have developed a lifelong love affair with libraries.
Lately one of my favorite activities is to hang out at the Castro Valley Public Library. It is a great place to work on my telecommute days. I sit at a table in the back, log on to the wireless internet and work quietly surrounded by a bunch of other people doing the same thing. It’s great! It’s like working in a coffee shop but without all the noise and attitude.
Today while I was there a group of noisy children walked in. The kids appeared to be accompanied by a few adults whose main concern was that they all be quiet. Who the hell were these people, I wondered, and why did they bring this group of rowdy children to the library? I glanced up and saw a group of kids sitting in a line of chairs next to the table I sat at. Some of them had books with them and a few were even trying to read. All of them were clearly wishing they were someplace else.
The girl sitting closest to me caught my attention especially. She was bigger than all the others, sitting amongst the boys and even though she was dressed in a pink outfit, I got the feeling she was probably not very comfortable hanging out with girls. She had a weird looking, oversized, spiral bound book, something she probably pulled down because it didn’t look like all the others. It was also closed and my guess was she had no intention of reading it.
Distraction suddenly turned into obsession with these children and the big girl especially. I could tell she was brought here to read and I felt an overwhelming desire to help her. I leaned over and looked her in the eye. “How old are you?” I whispered.
“Keep an eye on my computer,” I said. “I’ll be right back.”
I got up, walked over to the teen section of the stacks and started looking at the Meg Cabot collection. Volume One of The Princess Diaries wasn’t there but some of the other books from the series were. I grabbed a copy of Princess in Waiting as well as Shadowland from The Mediator series and Jinx. I then went over to the young man who appeared to be in charge of the group. “Excuse me,” I said, “I was wondering if it would be OK for me to recommend some books to that young lady over there?”
“Huh?” he looked a little surprised, “What are the books?”
“They’re teen fiction novels by Meg Cabot. This one is about a girl who finds out she is a princess.”
“Don’t all teenage girls think they are princesses?” sneered the woman next to him.
“I’m sorry,” I said suddenly feeling horribly embarrassed and foolish. “I don’t mean to be inappropriate or disturb your group.”
“No, it’s fine,” the guy said, “it’s just that these kids only read at a 2nd grade level so she probably won’t be able to read them.”
“Actually,” said the sneery woman, “my daughters have read some of those books. They are really good.”
With a nod of approval from the young teacher I nervously approached the girl and handed her the books. “These are really good.” I said. “This one is about a girl who finds out she’s a princess and these two are about girls with special powers. Just go slow with the words and sound them out if you have to. The stories are so good you won’t mind.”
I went back to my table and back to work, obsession lifted, while the girl quietly sounded out words from one of Meg Cabot’s book. Five minutes later when the group left she stopped by my table to thank me, Princess in Waiting in hand.
My love affair for libraries, helped out by a desire to spread a little bit of Meg Cabotyness, just went to a new level.