I love libraries. My favorite two are on opposite coasts...the Warwick Public Library in Rhode Island and the Corvallis-Benton County Library in Oregon. Both are hunormous structures with rooms of quality children's books. My least favorite library in the whole country is
I was on the phone with my sister, Sarah, recently. She was filling out entry forms while we talked for a drawing to win a four-foot chocolate bunny from the Corvallis-Benton County Library. She lowered her voice, "I hope we don't win. What would I do with a four-foot chocolate bunny?" The next time I talked to her she was planning a bunny-sharing picnic in the park with all their friends and anyone else who happened to show up. Even after the park extravaganza, half of the bunny still resides in their freezer. She is using that bunny and her awesome library as bait to get us to make another trip west.
Sarah told me their library is kicking off the summer reading program with a sleep over. There's room enough for the whole county to sleep in that library. If we tried that at our tiny library the kids would be locked together like snap-down flooring. Instead of a sleepover, at story hour today, we had Inky the Clown. He shaped balloons into animals ...and flowers...and a palm tree with a bunch of bananas and a monkey in its leaves. He did magic tricks of the obvious variety and juggled and told jokes of the slapstick-sarcastic variety. The kind that six-year-olds love.
The room was filled with children. There might have been fifty or more. After a few minutes of Inky, I turned my attention to the crowd...a mixture mainly of Mennonites and African-Americans. It was a study in contrasts. Amish pageboy haircuts and hair twisted and tightly pinned intermingled with cornrow braids and beads and ponytails sticking out every which way. Smooth blond heads beside dark nappy heads. Neon raspberry, lime and orange shirts commanded attention but so did the long-sleeve denim shirts and jeans and drab colored jumpers for there were so many of them and they were so plain and hot looking. Sandaled feet trod carefully so they would not step on the bare feet peeking out from under the plain skirts.
Inky the Clown captivated them all. Every child laughed at his jokes. He amazed them with his juggling. They saw the magic in the magic tricks. They hoped to be one of the lucky ones who would get to take home a balloon. Even some of the adults rolled with laughter. There is an innocence that can come with living your whole life in the same small town. Inky's magic might not have fooled the eye but it did have a way of reaching the heart.
P.S. If there is a great library in your area let me know so I can start planning my trip.