We were short-staffed this week: one bookseller on vacation, another still recovering from a fall, and one out with the flu. The other three happened to be unavailable to fill in on Wednesday, which left me alone at the store. This is hardly a tragedy during winter time; one person can handle even a fairly brisk store as long as there aren’t flurries of customers needing help all at the same time, along with a ringing phone and gift wrapping requests. But Wednesdays are story hour days, so at 11 am this week, in toddled seven or eight little snowsuited munchkins with their mommies.
We gathered in the picture book section on the rug, and I told the children that JP, their usual storytime reader, had a sore throat that morning and was very sorry to miss them, but that she had picked out special books and I would be happy to read them. I also explained that I was minding the store alone and might need to interrupt my reading to answer the phone or help a customer, in which case I hoped one of the parents might fill in. The children were good with this. They’re 18 months to four years old; they’re happy to go with the storytime flow.
One of the books JP had set aside for that week was Too Purpley! by Jean Reidy. This book got lots and lots of giggles. If you don’t know the story, it’s a very simple, toddler-friendly premise: a little girl rejects all of the clothes in her closet for various reasons — some straightforward, some fanciful (“Too purpley, too tickly, too puckery, too prickly!” and a whole host of other lively, funny examples.) The kids were fascinated by the book and had to point out things about their own outfits. I was tickled that JP had chosen this particular book, because earlier in the week, the author had posted a wonderful anecdote on Facebook about an encounter she had with a very young reader. Jean Reidy has given me permission to share it with ShelfTalker readers, so here you go:
A 3.5 year-old girl came up to my table at CCIRA, saw the TOO PICKLEY! Board Book, squealed “TOO PICKLEY!” grabbed it, sat down and immediately started reading it. And I mean reading it – like sounding out words and such.
So, I said, “Oh my goodness, you’re a very good reader.”
And she said, “Thank you. Would you like a bite of my apple?”
So, I said, “Oh that is SO nice of you, but no thank you, I just had breakfast.”
She continued reading.
So I said, “Are apples your favorite?”
And she said, “Would you like to play with something in my purse? I have a pony.”
She obviously wanted to keep me quiet, so she could finish the book.
Don’t you love that?
While I certainly wouldn’t ever wish a sore throat on JP, my unexpected fill-in time at story hour was lovely. I adore reading to kids. (Who doesn’t?!) There is nothing like those bright eyes and delighted giggles and excited additions to the story as you read. I was able to get through two whole books before the phone rang, at which time a mom stepped in and took over. She read two more books, and then another mom pitched in. It was a wonderfully cooperative story hour all around. A little chaotic, perhaps, but really fun. And not a single one of us needed to offer anyone a pony from our purse.