I was in third grade, and I devoured books even then. [Side note: I have finished three books in the past two days. I devour books.] I would leave a different book in each room, and just pick up wherever I left off. You could find my books under my covers, stuffed in the cushions of the couch, on coffee tables, and on the bathroom counter.
At the scholastic book fair my mom purchased Gail Carson Levine's "Ella Enchanted", and I was eight years old. Now I am twenty-three, and have read it at least 500 times. That is not an exaggeration by any means. I can easily quote the first line and last line from memory, and if you were to read it aloud, I could quote along with you.
I cannot tell you why I love it so much. It ranks in my "Top 4 List" of "Gone with the Wind", "Jane Eyre", and "Pride and Prejudice". It is that good to me.
But I can tell you about my experiences today.
Gail Carson Levine was doing a book signing at the Provo City Library. When I first saw this, I freaked out. For as long as I can remember, I've wanted to tell Ms. Levine that her book changed me, that it's been my favorite since we took it off the shelf in third grade.
I almost forgot to go to the signing. I thought about it, told my sister-in-laws Hannah and Emma about it a few weeks ago, and then forgot about it again. I've been to the library four times or so in the past month, and was continually reminded about the sign.
Good news, we went. As we left, I almost decided to leave all but "Ella Enchanted" at home, but at the last minute ran back into the house. As Hannah and Emma and I drove to the library (which is only a few blocks from my house), I giggled about how my copy of "The Two Princesses of Bamarre" was waterlogged and squiggly-looking. I also realized that in my rush, I had forgotten to put on my wedding ring and left my cell phone at home.
We arrived about forty minutes early, on purpose. A volunteer was passing out post-it notes for us to write our names on, and I realized that somehow, I only had three books in my bag. I had brought four. Hannah gave me the car keys, and I ran downstairs to check for the book. It wasn't there. I thought, "Maybe it's at home." In my long-sleeved button-up shirt and 70-degree muggy weather, I RAN home. I'm not a runner. But I ran. I heard people laughing in their cars, and just hoped it wasn't at me.
It wasn't in my house. BUT! My wedding ring was. I slipped that on, grabbed my phone, and called Hannah. I asked her to double-check if they were holding it. They weren't. But she said they'd say little prayers for me, and so I did the same. Heavenly Father, I know this is a silly, simple thing. But it means a lot to me.
I was about to cry! "The Two Princesses of Bamarre" is one of my favorites! I love the sisterly-love and I grieved over the loss of my well-loved copy. I ran the rest of the way to the library, checked the car again, and then walking through the parking lot searched the rained-on ground for any sign of my book.
I asked the security guard inside, trying to wipe the sweat from my forehead.
He sent me to circulation. The girl at the desk went and checked the back, and the second hand on my watch was telling me that I was running out of time! I rebraided my hair so that it would be off my neck.
She came back. No luck.
I went up two flights of stairs, looking for any sign of a missing book. By this point, I felt disgusting. I was too hot, too stressed, and too late. I asked the girl selling brand-new copies if anyone had brought her a copy of my book. She said yes! And said that Mariella had taken it to Lost-and-Found or to Circulation about 15 minutes ago. I had ten minutes left until Ms. Levine showed up for the signing.
Well, rather than run down two flights to circulation AGAIN (I knew it wasn't down there), I looked for Mariella. It was chaos. The Children's Book Festival had a May Pole, kids running around with streamers and faces painted and strollers everywhere... but I found her. She told me that it wasn't in Circulation, but in the Events Office, on the second floor.
Down one flight I went, and I told the man, "That is my book." I must have sounded accusatory, because he handed me the book immediately and said, "Well, they just dropped it off." I think I said thank you, and then I ran up the flight of stairs again.
Seven minutes. Hannah and Emma hugged me, we laughed about how silly it all was and I said I wouldn't tell Hiram yet. I always lose everything.
Gail Carson Levine walked in, small in stature but so influential in words, and sat in a large velveted throne. Even though my name was written on a post-it for her to see, she confirmed that it was "C-E-B-R-E" and asked how it was pronounced. After I said, "Say-bruh", she told me it was a pretty name and she began to sign.
I told her that "Ella Enchanted" has been my favorite book since I was eight years old, and she made some comment and smiled. She finished signing all my copies, and Hannah and Emma and I left, side-stepping the children with ribbons and the May Pole and fairy-tale characters. We took some pictures on the steps, laughed about our mispronunciations of her book titles, and climbed back in the car.
|The only copies of her books I have in Provo. |
We have so many more of her books in California!
Also, my mom bought a hardcover version of "Ella Enchanted" for me;
my paperback is torn in at least two pieces. It's VERY well loved.
"And so, with laughter and love, we lived happily ever after."