I filled my bag again with a load of titles grabbed somewhat indiscriminately from the shelves on the assumption that of all of the Patricia Polacco books in my pile, certainly one of them would be perfect for the next week’s reading comprehension lesson. Walking up to the counter to check out, I was still quite smug about having cleared my record of all obligations to this institution, and was optimistic that the new pile would not take nearly as long to return.
“You can’t take out any books” the librarian informed me.
“Oh. But how could that possibly be?” I inquired. “Didn’t you see how many books I just returned? I’m clearly very good at this.”
“You have three missing books” she said.
“You must have me mistaken for someone else” I told her. “I just brought back a sizeable quantity. Whatever books you claim are missing are right there. See?” I proceeded to rifle through the spines on the “to shelve” cart next to the counter.
“Nope. You are still missing three books. They are not here. And one costs eighty dollars. And you can take out no more books.”
Defeated, I put the collected works of Patrica Polacco back on the shelf and walked out, vowing to never return. Or to look harder for the missing books. Or to never return. One of those two. How did a forty-page children’s book possibly cost eighty bucks? And why was she so obstinately failing to recognize that ending up with only three books missing was an achievement?
Monday at school, I put out a call for the missing books, hoping for some assistance from twenty-four sets of alert eyes. Even the most discrete parent/teacher/closet handoff of birthday cupcakes never escapes their notice and I was hoping to capitalize on some of that careful surveillance to find the keys to my borrowing future at the library. Should I, in fact, decide to ever return.
The all-call was immediately fruitful. It turned out that the book Trevor had borrowed to read at home was the eighty-dollar one. Jackpot. Another of the liabilities turned up in my ever-growing desk pile of papers, transparencies, books, and more papers. The third….well….it did not turn up. It is perhaps under one of the kids’ beds at home, in another teacher’s classroom, in my ever-growing home office pile (though I managed to perform a careful inventory of this pile without reducing its size by so much as one piece of junk mail), or has evaporated into thin air.
Despite the one still-outstanding book, though, I strode into the library today, once again quite pleased with myself for another feat of book-returning prowess. I knew that having found these two missing items meant I was a fantastic library patron.
“Look at how awesome I am!” I declared to the librarian this afternoon as I produced the two missing books. This was a different librarian today and I was pleasantly surprised to find him much more able to understand just how excellent are my returning abilities.
“You are clearly very good at this” he said.
“There’s still one book missing….” I admitted, waiting for a scolding, or to hear that this one cost something on the scale of a college textbook rather than the scale of something written for small people with sticky hands.
“Do you want to keep looking for it?” he asked. “If by that you mean ‘Pretend it never existed and have a great summer,’ then yes! I do!” I replied.
And so it is with a sense of great accomplishment that I report that during the course of this entire school year, throughout our studies of plants, rocks, and government, through read-alouds and comprehension strategies, I only lost ONE BOOK from the public library. You teachers out there understand. I would like a ribbon.