Book fair, that is.
I've been pitching in at the one at the elementary this week - AD is running the show - and having a grand, if hectic, time.
And now sit back, children, because it's time for Yet Another Story from Lucy's Childhood!
So I went to a small, private elementary school where my mother was a teacher. Every year we had a book fair. And the school was aware of which children might be going through what issues, like Karl C. having juvenile diabetes and having to sometimes go to the teacher's lounge to get a sugarcube from the refrigerator (oh, how jealous I was! I loved those neat little blocks of sweetness!), or Courtney M., whose sister died of leukemia, the kind that now is pretty curable but sadly not in time for Amanda. We had a few kids whose parents were divorcing, but that was still pretty rare, at least at our relatively affluent school, where my mother sometimes seemed the only mother who worked outside the home. (And yet she was the one who finally stepped forward to run the Brownie troop and later the Girl Scouts! She, who had so little time to herself to begin with!)
So the school knew which kids were going through what, and they would always make sure to have a few special books at the book fair sort of geared toward those children. But to be discreet, the books weren't held aside or anything. They were just in among the wave of books that once a year seemed to swamp the little basement room where morning assembly for grades K-3 was held.
And so the year I was eight and lived in Osh Kosh B'Gosh corduroy jumpers, my mother was approached by another teacher in the teacher's lounge, where all the teachers hung out to smoke when they had no class to teach and where Karl C. went to get his sugar cubes, and the other teacher asked my mother if everything was OK at home, if there was anything she wanted to talk about. My mother was completely confused and a little startled by the question, she (rightly) deeming everything to be pretty smooth at that time. She said as much and asked if there was some reason behind the question, and that's when it came out:
My choice of book, given a fistful of dollar bills and free rein at the book fair, was a non-fiction tome called How It Feels When a Parent Dies. I can still picture it; hardback with a burgundy cover with a black and white photo and white title and author lettering. It was a collection of first person narratives from children of all colors and ages, all of whom had lost a parent, to accident, sickness, or suicide.
My poor mother must have wondered which parent I wished dead each and every time she saw me poring over it, which was every year or so as it caught my eye from the little white bookcase in my room. To her credit, she never asked me what it was about that book that made me buy it.
Sometime in between high school and college, it disappeared, I have no idea where.