The Power of One Writer
Back Yards, Ethiopia and Children's Books

What book lovers do

They lug books.

In my next lifetime, I’m going to love something light…like butterfly wings.

They buy books and sell books.

Sometimes this happens in a greenhouse, such as at the Garden Party in Grand Forks last week.  Sometimes it happens at Rotary booths.  Sometimes it happens in huge, echoing convention halls.  That will be the International Reading Association in Orlando this week, where I’ll be signing books at Booth 647 from 11:30-1 on May 10.  Y’all come by!

 Booklovers want to share the delicious experience of reading.  Dawn is the one with the hat in the above picture.  I happen to know she sat and watched the royal wedding in her pjs and a hat.  Dawn’s sister is in this picture, in Ethiopia, at the library the Klevberg family planted in honor of their mom, Jeannette Roeder Klevberg, a reader.

While I was flying to Grand Forks, I was reading a collection of Jeannette’s memories, Growing Up on Cole Creek…or Was It Just a Coulee?  She was a good writer with warm and funny and vivid memories of her childhood in ND.

“People didn’t visit,” she writes, “they ‘chewed the fat.’  Something bad was an ‘uffda’ or a ‘feeda’ or ‘ishda.’  The best place to go for coffee was a place where the housewife had rolled white cookies and sugar lumps.  I sat on a chair swinging my legs waiting for Mom to say it was time to go, which was the signal for the housewife to say, ‘But you can’t go yet, we haven’t even had coffee.'”  The worst place to visit, she wrote, was the home of a little old German lady who “always said she wanted to keep me because I was such a nice little girl….I sneaked in behind Mom and slid into a chair right by the door, in case I had to leave in a hurry.”  A week ago, Dawn and Ann Porter and I slip-slid through the ice to Jeannette’s church, where her friends gave a donation to improve her library.

What else do book lovers do?  This talented teacher and librarian told me a story of a time she and a friend met author Trina Schart Hyman at an airport.  They didn’t do anything as mundane as hold up a copy of one of Trina’s books.  No, Letty dressed as St. George and her friend dressed as a dragon.  I was so lucky to have Letty’s stories to keep me laughing as we drove from one Hutchinson, KS school to another and to have her practical, expert help for the Ethiopia Reads fundraiser on Saturday.  A whole generation of smart, determined educators may be retired or close to it, but they aren’t stopping.

I visited school after school filled with book lovers all last week and the week before.  Places like ND and Kansas may not be fancy, but they dazzle me anyway.  This school was brilliantly smart to ask kids to think what favorite story/book they would most like to share with readers in Ethiopia.

That’s what book lovers do.

Anyone up for joining LeAnn Clark as she heads to Ethiopia fo rthe third time…this summer?

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