Tuesday, June 11, 2019

love letter to the scholastic book club

Once every couple of months, we would sit at our desks, fidgeting for what we knew was coming. Our fingers itchy for the colorful newsprint as the teacher separated a stack and instructed the kids at the front of the room to pass it back. The Scholastic Book order went in once or twice a semester and it may be the only thing I can remember from those years with absolute clarity—the feel of the newsprint between your fingers, the smell of the ink.  Perhaps even the taste (weird things sometimes made their way into my mouth.) Our instructions were simple—take it home, consult your parents, and bring back the sheet with your carefully inked selections and a check for the amount.  Simple enough, surely, but the teacher may have never known the drama and angst such an undertaking.  I would start before I left school that afternoon.  The circling.  The bargaining. 
I was typically allowed at least one order each go-round.  I spent a couple days, madly circling the things I wanted, then would sit down with my mother to parse out exactly what we could afford.  Usually, it was at least one book, sometimes two.  In later years, I was all about sticker albums, but earlier, it was all fiction. A few weeks later, we’d wait, fidgeting again for the drop. For the books with their smooth, glossy covers to be parceled out. I loved the feel of them, loved to stack them carefully on my desktop.  Loved the plastic tote bags your order would arrive in, sort of a ziplock bag for books.   I would take them home and devour them.  Sometimes, they didn’t make it unread through the walk or bus ride home. .   At first of course, it was thin saddle bound paper back picture books like the Clifford series.  Then perfect bound, longer volumes as I got older. I eventually hunted mostly for mysteries and ghost stories, if I had to narrow my choices, these were a good bet. I probably had them read inside of a week,and was left to wait, breathless, next appearance of that newsprint flier in the teacher’s hands at the front of the room.


I'll be posting snippets of a fragmented memoir project I am working on about how libraries (both using, studying, and working in them) has shaped me as a person and as a writer/artist.  Follow along here...

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