Saturday, August 1, 2009

When authors are as wonderful as their books

One of my favorite children’s author stories:

A few years ago, Abbie and her dad and grandmother were at our local bookstore café. Abbie, then about 9, had just purchased a new children’s almanac, one of her favorite things to read at the time. As they waited to be served, Abbie read aloud some of the facts that caught her interest – things involving insects and other topics that might not be best savored at the table. Because her grandmother is hearing impaired, she spoke more loudly than usual.

A woman came over from another table and said how much she enjoyed seeing a kid who loved books. She talked to them about reading and wished them a nice day. They gathered that she was there for a signing and sort of picked up that she wrote books about animals, but didn’t they didn’t ask details and she didn’t offer any.

When they came home and told me the incident, I immediately went to the store’s website to see who they’d encountered. And it was Sandra Boynton!

I was both delighted and frustrated. Delighted, because we love Boynton’s books. The charm and humor and music made them some of our favorites, and I never got the “Not this again!” feeling that re-reading to a kid can sometimes create. I like them so much I routinely give them to new parents.

I was delighted to know that she is so charming and humble and personable. Thrilled that Abbie got to meet an author whose books had been a large part of her childhood (even if she didn’t know that’s who she was meeting at the time).

And I was frustrated that Sandra didn’t get the chance to know that the love of books she noticed in Abbie was partly nourished by her own talents! I’m sure she hears lots of stories of how she touches families, but you can never get too many of those. I wrote her in care of her publisher, but you can imagine the volume of mail she gets... Maybe someday I'll end up at a conference where she's speaking and can tell her in person.

By the way, her website is also as cool and fun as you'd imagine. And, I just found when I poked around there, the page that introduces her books is titled -- and you ready for this? -- Swell Books.