More than one children's book dealer has told me they don't really enjoy the financial aspects of their work, but are mainly in the business "because of the people and the books."
Of course that never prevented them from accepting my money!
But I do understand where they're coming from.
Frankly, there isn't a lot of money to be made in the world of children's books. But the other rewards are boundless. There's something very gratifying about introducing someone to a new book. Or reuniting someone with a childhood favorite. Or simply getting the right book into the right hands. When I hear a stranger discuss a children's book that I've read, I feel an immediate sense of kinship -- almost as if we're halfway friends before we've even met.
I've made a number of good book-buddies over the years. In many cases, we've only met in cyberspace, yet the stories we've discussed, the facts we've exchanged, and the opinions we've shared have certainly changed my life. Two of these friends -- one in Michigan, one in Connecticut, and unknown to each other -- separately convinced me to start this blog. And since I've opened up shop here, I've met even more like-minded people who have commented on blog entries or sent me personal e-mails (at Newbery13@aol.com) sharing stories about their own love of children's books.
I was thinking of all this today because another book-friend who sells children's books out of Mill Valley, California read my Sunday entry on Don Freeman's WHEN THE LIGHTS WENT OUT and wrote to share a story. She said that when her then-five-year-old son read Freeman's book many years ago he discovered a "slip up" in the story. He later had an opportunity to meet the author-illustrator and informed him of this slip-up "which Don Freeman vowed had never been caught before." He then inscribed the little boy's book:
Barry's mother added, "I used this book with many many children in various libraries over the years and very few ever caught on--even though Don had tried to make it evident."
Has anyone else read this book and noted the glitch that Barry found? Or was he the only kid who ever noticed it?
I'm grateful to the Mill Valley book dealer for sharing her story -- and that wonderful illustrated inscription -- with the rest of us.
I know, I know, Don Freeman told Barry to keep it a secret...
But his mother said I could share it...here, among friends.