Books Anonymous

My friend Ariceli e-mails me last week. She and her family are living in Abu Dabi for the next couple years. But she has a problem… in all the malls of Abu Dabi, she’s been unable to find pajamas and children’s books. Her two-year-old girl and four-year-old boy are sleeping in T-shirts and reading only the few Sandra Boyton books she’s brought with her. Can I send some?

I’m thrilled. A book buying binge, paid for by someone else!

Then I actually go to the store, and become quickly overwhelmed by the responsibility. These may be the only books these kids read for the next two or three years… formative literary years. And I’m supposed to choose? I don’t have a degree in library sciences. I’m a young adult writer. I’m underqualified. I’m hyperventilating. I’m standing in the middle of the store with an empty basket, a whining toddler, and panic in my eyes.

Deep breath. Pull it together.

I pick some classics. The Hockey Sweater, Jessie’s Island, a couple Robert Munsch.

I throw in two Mole Sisters books for the little girl.

In my own neurotic state, I can’t resist Scaredy Squirrel.

And then I flee the store. I’ll send these few books with the pajamas, and I’ll go back with a well-researched list, destined for a second package.

I can already think of a few books that they’ll definitely need. The girl might be five before they move home. She’ll definitely need to read Pink before that. There’s that book about the little boy with four names who lives next to the old folk’s home… what was that one? And what about some animal books for the boy? He’s not going to see any real bears in the desert.

What else? What books do two kids in the desert desperately need? Send me your list!

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