A Talking Dinosaur!

by Alton Gansky
Years ago, I received an e-newsletter from Shelf
Awareness
Shelf Awareness is about the book
business and it contains news of interest to those of us who love books and
publishing. This time it contained a blurb from a bookstore owner that got me
thinking. Here’s the piece:

“He’s Holding a Book in His Hand, and He’s Shaking”

“About 20 years ago, I had
an old guy come in here. He’d been living out here for many years and said he
was looking for a book he’d had when he was a kid, so I sent him back to where
the boys’ books are. Anyhow, about 15 minutes later, he’s holding a book in his
hand, and he’s shaking. He not only found the book, he found his name in it,
when he was 9 years old. Can you believe that? He found his own copy, right on
the shelf. The guy was actually crying. He was 80 years old or something, and
tears were rolling down his cheeks.” (Bob Weinstein, owner of the Book Baron,
Anaheim, Calif., in a wistful Los Angeles
Times
 piece about his bookshop’s imminent closing.)

Do you have a book from
your childhood like that? As a child I read a great deal. I loved books. Mrs.
Wells, my third-grade teacher held a reading contest. I was determined to read
more books than anyone in class. She wrote our names on small, handmade paper
rocket ships and my rocket would climb higher with each book I read.
Sigh, I came in second to
Judy Reynolds. (The big cheater.)
Anyway, one of my favorite
pastimes was finding a quiet place in the house and delving into a book. One of
those still holds a special place in my heart. I remember how good I felt at
the end of that read. The kind of feeling demonstrated by pulling the book to
my chest and holding it like the treasure it was.
THE SHY STEGASAURUS OF CRICKET CREEK written
by Evelyn Sibley Lampman and illustrated by Hubert Buel was written in
1955…long before my reading days. It would be a decade before I got around to
it. Odd that a children’s book written a half-century ago should still be
lodged in the gray matter between my ears. But who can turn a way from a story
featuring brother/sister twins and a talking stegosaurus that lives on their
ranch? Not me. I mean—a talking stegosaurus. It’s a fun yet
sad story.

Evelyn Sibley Lampman, wife to a reporter, touched my life and stoked the coals
of my imagination. The only place a talking stegosaurus can live is
between the covers of a book. Evelyn—I feel comfortable calling anyone who
leaves their fingerprints all over my brain by their first name—died in 1980.
Pity. I’d like to thank her for the adventure.

What about you? Do you have
a book from your childhood that won’t go away?
Alton Gansky is the author of over 40 books. He is also the director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. www.altongansky.com