May 03, 2009
Filed Under (Free Hugs, Good Times) by svana

When I was a child, the best part of school for me was book orders. As a parent I can still indulge in this joy.

Being one of a generation of kids that grew up without cable, book orders were a lifeline in my world. Scholastic Canada has not changed much in the last 30 years. I shudder as I think about how much time has gone by, yet I find myself looking forward to the reminder of my age with each approaching book order. The same 4 or 6 pages of newsprint, filled with books to engage, educate and ponder. I think I spend more time looking at the Scholastic offerings than my daughter does.

The other bonus is the Scholastic book fairs that the school hosts about three times a year. This past September, I found a truly beautiful, simple, touching book that leaves joy in it’s wake. The book is Hug Time by Patrick McDonnell. The delightful Mr.McDonnell is also the creator of the comic strip Mutts. Hug Time is beautifully illustrated in watercolour and carries a timeless message…hugs as an expression of love can be simple, pure, without guile and something that everyone can…ahem…embrace.

Hug Time chronicles Jules’ adventure to take hugs out to the world, and in so doing…brings love to even the most unwilling readers heart. I cannot say too much about the story without heavily paraphrasing it which would strip the book of it’s magic.

One day, I took Hug Time into my office on a whim. Anyone who passed my office had this precious gem pressed into their hands with the stern admonition to take 5 minutes out of their day and sit down to read it. It’s really quite remarkable watching who got it and who didn’t. The people that took the message to heart, gave me a hug with misty eyes…a very unexpected perk, but one I’ll gladly accept. The people that didn’t get it said, “Oh, it’s cute…” and you could almost hear what they didn’t say, which was “and why did you make me read this?”. As the days passed, the people who got it, came by my office to see where they could get their own copy. Joy shared is doubled, I believe the saying goes.

To Mr.McDonnell, I must convey my deepest gratitude. Thank you for creating such beauty, in Hug Time and in Mutts. I believe you get it and more importantly, you live it. There are some folks in this world that make it a better place by doing what they do and I am delighted to encounter them, especially at book fairs.

To Scholastic Canada, my childhood pot of gold…my adulthood guilty pleasure. I am fortunate to have such a long standing friendship with you. This relationship began in 1975 with Clifford the Big Red Dog, Frog and Toad, and A Bargain For Frances. My friendship with you grew as we moved from town to town and province to province, you were always there and you always had something new to tempt me with.

The joy of reading is pervasive in our home.

This makes my heart smile.


One Response to “Book Orders”

  1. EB :) Says:

    And I thought that I was the only parent whose guilty pleasure was those order forms. With my darling about to graduate grade 8, we have sadly graduated from Scholastic to shopping live in the bookstores. Not nearly as much joy in that. Chapters is an understanding store, they don’t frown on you if you come in at night in your jammies, but it’s difficult to ‘browse’ with a pillow & my favorite blankie!

    Long ago, we barely made ends meet, relied on leftovers from dinners with the parents & survived on rice & hotdogs just so that our child could
    (1)eat well (he ate properly) and (2) read.

    After we bought the munchkin’s food & supplies, we would scour the coveted scholastic for whatever he wanted, and if we could not afford it, papa generally came through – “Reading is important. I don’t care what he wants to read, if you can’t afford it – tell me!”

    Our ‘baby’ left kindergarden with over 450 books under his little belt, and in grade 8 he wrote a book report on The Iliad. He read that & The Odyssey ‘just for fun’. He is also a fan of Angels & Demons and The DaVinci Code.

    I vividly remember being in grade 4 and making my wish list from those few pages. I would carefully circle each price in blue ball point pen & leave it in an obvious place so dad would know it was time to order…now I use a red gel pen and dad gave me my own bank card.

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