“Is this you?” a little girl asks.
“It’s me, all right,” I say.
“So how old are you anyway?” she wants to know.
I tell her. How can I not?
“You’re up there,” she says.
“You’re down there,” I say.
I get a hug.
She’s one of the children in two classes that were at The Dinosaur’s Paw, our children’s bookstore, yesterday morning. During the school year, busloads of kids come to hear me talk about my books, to listen to me read a bit.
These kids give me as much as I give them. I watch them sitting there in front of me, then take them home with me—the things they say, their faces, their personalities.
Yesterday I read a bit of BIG WHOPPER, the second Zigzag book. The star of this one is Destiny Washington who has an on-again, off-again relationship with Gina Arlia. Sadly, Gina is winning the “I’m better than you are,” game. Her drawing is spectacular; Destiny’s is disappointing.
There’s only one thing to do when Gina sniffs at her work. “My great-great-greatest grandfather was the President of the United States,” Destiny says before she can stop herself. “He was Abraham Washington.”
I laughed when I wrote it. Now life’s bonus, the kids’ reaction. They get it: some laugh, two clap their hands over their mouths, one rolls her eyes. It’s a big whopper, for sure.
What could be better than this writing world? I go home treasuring what one whispered to me. “I love reading the books you make.”
“I love writing them for you,” I told her.
And one last revelation. A boy tells me he’s writing, too. “My story is a little better than yours,” he says.
“Can I put you in a book?” I ask.
“All right,” he says. “I’ll put you in mine.”
Great. It’s another bonus.