This Saturday is the day employees of public education look forward to for 9 months; the day when a glance at the calendar shows square after dated square of classroom free bliss. Days without the dictatorial bell signaling when we and our charges can get fresh air, take nourishment, or void our bladders. Days where, if desired, we can spend the day in elastic-waisted fleece or fail to touch a comb. Weeks stretch before us, free from enforcing excessive running, chatter, and gum chewing. Oh bliss!
This is what I planned on doing my first weekend of freedom. As you can see I walked out of my newly inventoried and abnormally organized library, loaded with plenty of fodder for a 48-hour readathon.
I never went as far as entering Mother Reader’s challenge. When I came across it several weeks ago, I had grandiose thoughts in the back of my head that it would be a good way to get this long neglected albatross of a blog off the ground once and for all. Naturally I was delusional. With a background in dyslexia, distraction (ADHD), and a tendency to Narcolepsy if left in a stationary position for prolonged amounts of time, even an obsessive book addict like myself, is not going to make any sort of showing in a reading challenge, no matter how much bubbly caffeine is involved.
I also had pressing landscaping issues, of the sort pictured below, mocking me every time I passed through my front door, and my back and side door for that matter. I no longer had the excuse of long work hours, to appease the collective suburban disdain for slipshod lawn pride.
The weekend began well enough, with a night out with my husband, who was also prone to celebrate his upcoming break from his role as a School Psychologist. We spent our new found leisure on dinner and a movie. The Brother’s Bloom being the later, which, with a bit more rumination and at least one subsequent viewing, may well make it into my top 25 movies of all time? But this is not a movie blog. I will not bore you with the pleasure of staring into Adrian Brody’s spellbinding eyes for 2 hours.
On our return home I was met with an entryway filled with shattered glass which I am blaming on our cat infestation colliding with a decorative wall plaque. As I was gingerly scooping up shards and slivers of what had previously been known as a loving gift presented to me by my crafty sister, my husband walked in with the mail.
Are you ready for it; this is the point in the story when the mundane and common takes on the sheen of spectacularness. At this point the poor unsuspecting man had no idea what sort of commotion his next sentences were about to elicit.
“Hon, it looks as if someone sent you a book? Were you expecting something?”
My senses on full alert I pivoted, sharp, potentially dangerous, debris carelessly brandished, as my frantic hands reached for the white envelope resting in his unsuspecting grasp. My eyes saw Monica Edinger name scrawled in the upper left hand corner - and all hell broke loose.
As stated before I had a shared experience with embarrassingly enthusiastic game show contestants. Once the squealing, jumping, dancing, rejoicing, and envelope shredding had subsided, I stood panting in the middle of my kitchen, my prize clutched to my chest facing my bewildered spouse.
What, you may be asking, along with my abused and bemused husband, was I holding that would elicit such abandon? If you think you can bear the blinding magnificence of it, I will show you:
I know you are saying to yourself, how could she possibly be holding it in her kitchen when the publication date is weeks away? How could she have the hottest book of the summer? She is in no way cool enough, or privileged enough to be on the galley give-away gravy train.
Let me take you back in time and tell you the story.
It all began when I read Betsy Bird's tantalizing review followed by Monica’s own. Up to that point, I had eagerly been waiting for mid-May to get my hands on little Calpurnia Tate, when suddenly my focus was diverted to this enticing morsel by Rebecca Steed, with its enigmatic title, and unassuming cover, dangling far off in the distant future. It was enough to break the heart of an obsessive kid lit extremist like myself. How could I contain the craving until July?
I had a fleeting hope of getting my hands on a galley when Betsy dropped down this challenge to finish off her fabulous top 100 picture books of all time. I was determined to guess the top ten and demand her galley of When You Reach Me as my spoils. Alas, I was taken out by sweet little Trixie in the first round - the little strumpet. I do however want to boast that I got the top nine of the ten - little good that did me.
Dejected and suffering from PCD, (post countdown decompression), I was not as vigilant in my blog reading as I should have been. A few days ago, after a long day of inventory and delinquent book repo, I was doing my daily blog perusal long past the customary time. When what to my wondering eyes should appear - but a possibility of achieving my heart’s desire! Monica was giving away a whole box of the precious objects!
Oh, the world stopped! I scrambled for a coherent reason to explain my desire to get my grubby little hands on one. For the next hour I was unbearable as I tried to limit myself to a mere 140 characters to convince Monica and her class why I must be one of the ones chosen. As I’m sure you can imagine, after reading this horrendously long post, brevity is not a strong suit, not at all.
I can’t quite remember the exact wording of my carefully, and excruciatingly edited request, but I believe I intimated that some of my students might somehow be in danger if I were not to receive a copy. Finally satisfied I sent off my hopeful plea, only to be desolate moments later. As I had linked to Educating Alice from Fuse #8, I had failed to see this post. And as my school day had ended hours before, I’m sure Ms. Edinger’s class, two time zones ahead, had long since made their selections and were now tucked in their beds. Once again I was thwarted, or so I assumed. But as you know there was some kind of divine intervention. Or did the participants find encouraging messages as they checked their pockets, backpacks, reading material, and footwear?
Whatever the reason I’m so grateful my mailbox contained such a treasure. I spent this day reading what is sure to be one of my top 10 novels of all time. It is not a common occurrence, for the reasons listed at the beginning of this post, for me to finish a book in one day. But I devoured this, plump and juicy bit, by rich and satisfying bit, up to the final emotion-filled paragraphs. And all I want to do now is open it again and start all over!
Thank you Monica and class! (And, um . . . If you so happen to have a copy of Catching Fire laying about, I could threaten another class.)