Monday, November 4, 2013

Library Mouse

All my life, I have been a reader. I cannot remember the first book I ever read, or the first book I ever loved. It was just something I was, something I did. Since I was in third grade, I have been a writer. I do remember the first time I wrote a fictional story. I remember how it felt to have that pencil in my hand (with a purple triangle grippy thing, because no teacher has ever appreciated the unique way I hold a pencil). I remember the elation of realizing that I was the one controlling the story. I remember the feeling, way deep down in my eight-year-old soul, that I was doing what I was meant to do. No matter what has come of my writing since, that moment will stick with me forever.

Now, this post is not about what a wonderful writer I am. In truth, I am rusty, and tired (two young children will do that to you), and out of touch with any sort of writing community (being a financial analyst for six years before becoming a stay-at-home mom will do at to you, too). What this post is about is the initial spark. That moment when I realized I had the potential in me to tell a story. Because that is what Library Mouse, by Daniel Kirk is all about.

We bought the book at a yard sale this summer. I had never heard of it before. But, it looked interesting, and was in good shape. For a quarter, how could we go wrong? It sat on the shelves, unnoticed for a while. Then, one day Kay brought it to me and asked me to read it. We were both smitten.

General synopsis:
Sam is a library mouse. That is to say, he lives in a library. When the people go home, he reads a lot (wouldn't you, if you had the run of the library, all by yourself, every night? I think this book had me right here--a childhood fantasy written in a book. But, it gets better.)

One day, Sam decides to write a book. When a little girl finds it, she brings it to the librarian, and, intrigued, the librarian shows it to the other librarians. (Readership! Of his first book! The fantasy just keeps getting better.) Sam writes two more books, which are similarly discovered, and read. Finally, the head librarian writes a letter to the mysterious Sam, asking him to come in for a "Meet the Author" day. Sam, not wanting to have to interact with people (he is an introvert, like many writers), spends the night making tiny, blank mouse-sized books. Then he leaves those blank books next to an empty tissue box that has a mirror taped to the bottom and a "Meet the author" banner above.

The first little girl who bends over to look in the box says, "Oh!" in surprise. "Me?" she says. "An author?" And she, and many people thereafter, write in the tiny books. "Soon there was a whole shelf full of books written by people who had never written a book before, telling stories that had never been told." How beautiful is that???

Who loves it:
I do. A lot. Library Mouse brought me right back to my third grade classroom, right back into that moment when I realized "Me. An author." The story made me sad that I don't write anymore, and happy that I ever did, and inspired that I might do it again, and hopeful that maybe, some day, my children will love to write the way I did, and still kind of do.

Kay also loves this book. She asks for the "mouse book" frequently. Often, she will ask to have the book read again the moment it closes. At 20 months old, she is too young to articulate why she likes the book. I suspect it may be because of the cute mouse. But, there is a part of me that wants to believe that she is precocious, and already recognizes that there is some spark of a writer within her. But, I do realize that I am probably projecting a lot there, and, really, she loves the cute mouse, and going to the library, and the combination is a win for her.

Why we love it:
I think I have already covered this quite well. But, I will sum it up by saying that this book can make anyone--child or adult--realize or remember that they have a story to tell. Anyone can be a writer. Even a mouse who lives in a library. Even you. Even me.

The verdict:
Library Mouse is one of those lesser-known books that deserves a spot on every child's shelf. It is playful, and inspirational, and reminds us that reading and writing can lead to great things. 

P.S. Further proof that writing can lead to great things: I just discovered, through searching for a link to the book for this post, that there are sequels to The Library Mouse. After I finish writing this post, you better believe I am placing holds on those titles from my local library. I love how sharing favorite books can lead to realizations like this. Please, if you have favorite children's books to share, comment with the titles. We are always happy to find new favorites.

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