SOL16, Day 17: It sat alone, but not unloved

Last year, I had a student who was obsessed with Cynthia Lord.

At NCTE, I stood in line for Lord’s signature.

When I got home, I shared Rules and the autograph with the class.

Of course, my fellow fangirl asked to borrow the book and of course, I said yes. I’m sure I told her to give it special care, and I know she promised to do so.

Days later I found the book deserted on a picnic table. The pages clung to each other, swollen with water. The signed page bled. I wanted to cry.  The apparent negligence attacked not just the thing but the idea of it.

I sat the book out to dry over the weekend. Perhaps it would come back to life.

The next week I showed her. The cover could hardly contain the curled pages. She denied leaving it outside.  I wish I could have said it was ok. But, I told her it made me sad to see it ruined. It was special. She agreed.  And that was that.

I’m not a person who gets too attached to things, and I had forgotten about this story until last Thursday.

Going home, I rounded the corner and saw a beautiful new book abandoned on a bench.

A rain storm was predicted for the next day.

I picked up the book and looked inside. Two first names were scrawled in gold ink. A heart punctuated their shared last name.

I took the book home and imagined.


She sat reading.  Her brother ran over, threw off his unneeded jacket, and looked over her shoulder. She giggled. He sat down and leaned in closer.

“Let’s play!” screamed her friend.

She set the book down and ran to the game.

The whistle blew.

The book sat. Alone, but not unloved.


The next day I delivered the book to the office. They had no problem finding the owner.   Smart kiddo, the last name got the book back to her.

Many things call a child. A playground game, a friend, a teacher, a parent. Distract them from other important and loved things.

I am grateful to this reader. Her actions helped me remember and understand.

Thank you, Two Writing Teachers Blog for the March Slice of Life Challenge. Every day is a gift of reading and writing. Read more slices here.



12 thoughts on “SOL16, Day 17: It sat alone, but not unloved

  1. I agree with Carrie’s comment. Your reaction to the neglected Lord book is generous. We can all learn from our experiences.

  2. I feel your pain over that abandoned Cynthia Lord book. I admire how you handled it. Your experience teaches you. I love seeing your lavender toes in the picture.

  3. I think this must have been the best slice I’ve read in a long time. There is something about an abandoned book that makes me sad as well. I’m sorry you don’t have your signed copy of Rules anymore. She lives here in Maine, I’m going to try to get it replaced. xo PS Love your purple toes

  4. Remember and understand, key words in this sad tale of the signed book and rescue of a new book. It’s so hard when others don’t treat our treasures with the same reverence that we think they should.

  5. Wow. This is such a poignant story on perspective. I hear how much the Lord book meant to you and I hear a deep understanding of the temporary but not thoughtless, nature of childhood, and ultimately of life.

    Side note: When I saw the book I thought it might have been my child’s since we have an unusual last name…but the brother part doesn’t match up.

    I hope you’re still teaching when Reya gets to 5th grade. 😊

  6. We never know the whole story when something happens we wished had not, but you made it right in your own heart, I think. And that’s a good thing just for you, Julieanne.

  7. Such a wonderful slice. “The book sat alone, but not unloved,” are powerful words. I love how you connected your understanding with the story of the Cynthia Lord book. I think someone was very happy for your rescue of the abandoned book.

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