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Diving Into a Book

hogwarts-castle-watercolorWe all love to find a book that we can dive into. If that book changes our outlook or carries us away to a whole new world, all the better.

“If I Could Dive Into the World of Any Book” was the very topic of our essay contest this year for the younger participants. Thanks to the Andrew and Ernest Boch Memorial Fund, the Outreach department ran this event for the 7th year in a row. Not surprisingly, the books chosen and the worlds disclosed were as varied as our own town’s population.

Before going any further, however, this might be a good place to announce the names of our essay contest winners:

Level 1: Sylvie Deeks (First Place), Jordan Shea (Second Place), Reegan Pritchard (Third Place), Daniel Gomez (Honorable Mention), Bridget Kidd (Honorable Mention), and Caden Sheehan (Honorable Mention)

Level 2: Bridget Stenstrom (First Place), Thomas Nee (Second Place), Emilia Org (Third Place), Charlotte Martino (Honorable Mention) and Mary Flaherty (Honorable Mention)

Level 3: Alyssa Lahaise (First Place), Aanchal Nigam (Second Place), Jonathan Dana (Third Place), Joseph Gallant (Honorable Mention) and Paul Weinbaum (Honorable Mention)

If you are looking for some good Summer Reads, the books mentioned in these winning essays might be just the thing. And, if you haven’t discovered the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling yet, Sylvie Deeks would ask “What are you waiting for?” After all, who wouldn’t want to learn how to perform the “Wingardium Leviosa” spell used by Hermione Granger in order to make things float? As Deeks wrote, “Imagine being able to make the boys in my class float up in the air after they tease me!” That would certainly come in handy. Likewise, Bridget Kidd followed suit and chose to enter Harry Potter’s world as well. She had her own reasons, though, like trying out the game of Quidditch and the many different foods that Hogwarts offered.

Bridget Stenstrom and Jordan Shea both took a more empathetic view. They both chose the book Wonder, by R. J. Palacio to write about because they wanted to befriend the main character, Auggie, who was born with facial differences and who underwent 27 surgeries in his 10 years. In a beautiful way, Shea concluded that “I would want to be friends with Auggie not because I have to but because I think he would be a nice friend.” Stenstrom declared that she “would want to see through his eyes how hard it is to live with kids making fun of him every day.”

Most likely there are a lot of Charlotte’s Web fans out there, too. Reegan Pritchard did a nice job of reminding readers why Charlotte and Wilbur’s friendship is a reason to dive into their world. They go to such lengths to help one another, and Pritchard felt she would be “lucky” to be part of their “amazing and awesome world.”

For a change, Caden Sheehan described a world of baseball in Honus and Me by Dan Dutman. Sheehan thought he might like to go “back in time …to watch Jonus Wagner play a baseball game at the position of shortstop and to see how good he really is.” And while it might be a stretch, Daniel Gomez wooed us into thinking that Dog Man by Dav Pilkey would be a world of great fun and hilarity. After all, there are secret labs and police stations and a gigantic vacuum that can suck up anything.

That said, Thomas Nee chose the book Hatchet by Gary Paulsen because he wanted to have a real-life survivalist adventure. When the character Brian Robeson’s plane crashes in the wilderness, he survives with the only tool he brought with him—his hatchet. He lives in the wilds of Canada for 54 days. Nee admires how Brian “stayed so calm and still” when he came in contact with a bear. After all he endured, Nee said he “felt like I was with him [Brian] the whole time.”

Of course, sometimes we want to fall into a book that is completely nonsensical. That was the case with Emilia Org’s choice. She picked The Giraffe and The Pelly and Me by Roald Dahl. Org would be happy to join the adventures of these characters so she could “build my dream house” that would have a candy factory on it. Yum! Likewise, Mary Flaherty picked a beloved and magical world from A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle. For Flaherty, it was as much family love as the adventures. As she wrote: “Also I like when everyone ends up at the house and they are all so happy to be together with their whole family including their long lost father.”

On the other hand, Charlotte Martino picked a world that many of us would chose to avoid—that of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. If she could be like Katniss, the main character who survives death and the Hunger Game arena, Martino said it “would be like a dream.” Martino admitted that the situation of being hunted “wouldn’t be the best,” but with Katniss by her side, this adventure might be worth it.

And while all that diving into book worlds is wonderful, the adult essays addressed another favorite topic, that of libraries. The prompt for this group was to “Write About Any Library—Real or Imaginary, Large or Small—and What It Means to You.” Most of our participants wrote about real libraries, but not Alyssa Lahaise. She imagined a tree, with “long, willowy branches” which “fan out around the bumpy trunk” right in the middle of her perfect library. Not to mention, floating platforms and high balconies overladen with “purple buds.”

Aanchal Nigam thought a “personal library could be someone’s very own paradise,” and many of us would agree, while Jonathan Dana creatively reminded his readers that libraries can be musical ones as well. As he penned, “Where most libraries comprise of books, my special library consists of over 1,500 CD’s.” And when the day seems troubling, a favorite song can be the perfect solution.

Leave it to Joseph Gallant to bring a pragmatic side to these library visions. He realized that his dream library “couldn’t exist in real-life because of strained and limited federal, state, and municipal budgets.” Don’t we know it! This contrasted with Paul Weinbaums’ real-life memory of his first library job in the American Museum of Natural History where he remembered “An English-born librarian hosted tea with pastries during our very proper Saturday breaks.” Sign us all up for that experience. We will be sure to order the scones and clotted cream.

All in all, we could not ask for a more fabulous array of essays that were submitted this year. We wish we could offer prizes to all who entered, but we had to select these few winners. We hope everyone will join us in listening to their words at the celebration on June 18th from 7-9. After all, you can never have too many books and libraries, can you?

Nancy Ling is the Outreach Librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, Massachusetts. Read Nancy’s column in the June 14th issue of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

Lydia Sampson

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