Saturday, February 1, 2020

Magic Books?

I received a very special treasure from a friend of mine. She said she was looking for something to send me "down a rabbit hole" because she knows I love the journey. Well, she certainly found it when she gave me The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine, by Mark Twain and Philip Stead with illustrations by Erin Stead. My goodness, what a treasure! (And a delightful rabbit hole of research to discover!)

I love Mark Twain, but had no idea this book existed until I received it as a gift. Twain made up stories for his daughters from time to time, but he didn't always write them down. In the case of The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine, he wrote most of it down,...but never wrote the ending. 

Enter Caldecott Medal winners Philip Stead and his wife, Erin Stead. 

Philip Stead finished the tale and included, as part of the tale, short segments in the story where he's conversing with Twain and talking about how the story is progressing. It's quite wonderful.

As enjoyable as the story is, it wouldn't be complete without the beautiful illustrations of Erin Stead. From the cover of the book to the smallest image of the tiniest animal on the inside, the visuals are a delight. My favorite is the image of the old fairy and the skunk, but I love them all.

Now, it just so happens that my friend also gave me something else to go along with the book. It was something she knew I'd love. She bought an old, wood-carved book holder from England to display my beautiful gift in my library. 

So, this is how it looks,...

and it bring me joy every day.

But that's only part of the story.

One day, my grandchildren came over for a visit, and my sweet four-year-old granddaughter wandered into my library. I thought, perhaps, she wanted one of the books I keep in a basket for them, so I followed a few steps behind her.

When she walked up to the tray on the bench, she became still and quiet. She reverently approached the open book on the stand and reached out her small hand to barely touch the edge of the pages with her fingertips. Without taking her eyes off the book, she spoke in awe as she asked, "MawMaw, this a magic book?"

I realized instantly what she meant. She'd never seen a book on display like that except in cartoons and movies where it's almost always a magical book. My sweet grandbaby thought her grandmother had a magic book!

I walked up behind her, with a smile on my face, and whispered, "Yes, it's a magic book. All books are magic, my sweet girl." 

My answer seemed to satisfy her, and we looked at some of the beautiful pictures in the book before she moved on to something else. It's a moment I'll always hold in my heart.

And, yes, I know one day she'll know the truth...

All books really are magic.