👆🏼At my childhood library branch, signing books. My grandma used to live in that building behind us
👆🏼👆🏼👆🏼 My wonderful nephews and other friends and fans at River School!
Professional figure skater, wild animal trainer, circus performer, Disney animator, comedian, Olympic-level equestrian: just a few of my childhood dreams that have not come to pass (yet 😊). But the one that I wanted the most — the one that I had my kid-heart set on — was to be an author-illustrator. I loved my elementary school, but I also had a lot of anxious feelings that I tried to hide from everyone, as I’m sure a lot of kids do. I found solace during arts and crafts time and in our wonderful school library, as well as our local library in town. Walking through the quiet stacks, smelling the book-smell, finding what I was searching for or happening upon a new book — these spaces were my sanctuaries. So visiting my elementary school and childhood library branch had a special feeling to it. It was one of my childhood dreams to come back to River School, published books in hand, and tell my stories to those students of the distant future! As it turns out, now doesn’t feel like the distant future and I seem to remember almost everything from my River School days. The playground brought back a lot of memories: G.I. Joes buried in the sandbox to be dug up the next day, pretend horses that we would diligently care for and tie up outside our classroom when recess was over, a special locket that a friend said only magic could open. At the end of my author visit at school, a kindergartner with what looked like self-cropped bangs and a well-loved bee tutu with dangling sequin hem showed me her own locket — a picture of Elsa and Anna was inside. “I KNOW them!” I said, and we shared a knowing giggle. I was presented with a wonderful picture of a tree with leaves made of thumbprints, created by the kindergarteners. After my visit, I started up the car and turned on the radio. “Heaven Is a Place On Earth” by Belinda Carlisle was playing, a song I remember from my elementary school days (80s kid here!) mainly from the roller rink. To say “it brought me back” would be an understatement — I was flashing back to vinyl bus seats, glittery jelly bracelets, book fairs, trapper keepers, days spent at the pool. Fantastic.
Then it was on to the Harrison library in downtown Carmel, the branch I frequented when I was little. It has a view of the building my grandma lived in when we were growing up. The best tiny apartment ever! I got to read to ALL the River school first graders, who bussed in and were patient and inquisitive. I love that they have this library to enjoy, and I hope they find as much joy in it as I did (and still do!) Many thanks to the teachers of Carmel River School and the librarians and staff at Harrison Memorial Library, with special thanks to Grace Melady for putting it all together. It was heavenly.