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Saturday Story Time: The quest for Andrew Henry’s Meadow
January 21, 2012, 11:23 pm
Filed under: blessings, books, humor, Parenting | Tags: , , ,

It was a little tick in the back of my brain. You know what its like when you forget someones name. You know, you know it. It is just out of your reach and bugs the crap out of you. The more you think about it, all the other details come together, but not the name. You can describe them, hear their voice in your head, but you can not remember their name if your life depended on it. You forget about it for a while hoping it will come to you in the middle of the night or when you least expect it.

This time the tick was not someones name but a book. A children’s book. It was a book that had impacted me so much that as an adult I wanted to find it. It was before I had kids so it was not because I wanted to share my favorite book from my childhood with my own children. I was not an elementary school teacher wanting to enlighten my pupils with wisdom from the past. I just knew it was a good book. It was so good in fact that I remembered it from my childhood vividly, but not the title.

I am one of “those kind” of people that does not let things go. They eat at me, challenge me, and well I become a bit obsessed to find the answer. I started with my mom and sisters. Do you remember the book we read when we were little? It was about this boy and he was an inventor. I can not remember the title but it had a green cover. My mom gave me a blank stare. My sister Kristi just laughed “Sort of, not really, I remember ‘Go Dog Go’ and ‘Pickle Chiffon Pie’(another all time great) but not really the one you are describing.” My oldest sister Kathi was the most helpful as she at least remembered the book. “ No, you are not crazy, I kinda remember it too, wasn’t there a dog in it?”

This was before the internet, before ask.com and all the wonderful ways we have to access information at our finger tips. I would forget about it for a while then randomly stop in a book store and try to describe what I remembered to the sales clerk who would usually ask me for a title, a publisher, a year, anything that would be helpful and I of course had none of that.

I had my memory, I knew the cover was green, I knew it was about a boy who invented things and his parents got annoyed with his inventions so he ran away to this meadow. I remembered that he built himself a place that he could invent things without getting in trouble. Pretty soon another kid came out who had some other hobby that annoyed his or her parents and they wanted the boy to build them a creative place to live to allow for their unique personality. that’s all I knew, that was my story.

Flash forward about five years. Five years of this annoying tick, this stupid obsession with a children’s book that I could not remember the title of. I shared my quest with Jan Elaine, one of my best friends at the time. She started calling bookstores. Whenever she was in a big city she would go to their top bookstore and explain what she was looking for. I had given up. I decided that if there ever was a book it was long gone and maybe I should just write a new one from my ghost memory of this one.

Flash forward another couple of years and JanElaine calls me. I think I found your book. What? I was in Denver and I went to this place called Tattered Covers and talked to this older man in the children’s department and I described what you told me and he said he knew what book I was talking about. She gave me his phone number and I called him right away. I explained how I got his number and what I remembered of the book and he said “Oh yes, that is a splendid book. Not real well-known but splendid.”

The name of the book is ‘Andrew Henry’s Meadow’ by Doris Burn. It was published in 1965 exclusively for the Children’s Book Club. It had not been in print for years but he would look to find a used copy of it for me. I was thrilled and as soon as he told me the name I knew it was the one. The tick had been killed and I was on my way to owning the book that had teased my brain for so long.

When it arrived in the mail it was a holiday for me. I ripped the package open and held it reverently in my hands. I probably said a prayer and then I sat right down to read it. It is a really good book. It is a beautiful story about feeling like an outcast and finding your way to be yourself within a family. It honors the individual and celebrates finding your niche within the normalcy of daily life. This book is truly one of my greatest treasures and its theme has become my quest for life. To use my unique individuality while celebrating yours, and learning to live peacefully in the dailiness of life.

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