Thursday, October 13, 2011

Hi 8-Year-Old Self! It's Me, 19 Years Later!

I've come to the understanding that I'm never going to stop buying books. No matter what I do in my life, I always want books with me. I think my penchant for purchase will lessen considerably once I have steady, reliable libraries in what Henderson offers through its Henderson Libraries network, and what Las Vegas has in its Clark County system. But if a book I read from the library is special enough to warrant inclusion in my permanent collection, then I'll buy it. Mind you, one of my lifetime goals is to own every Andy Capp book ever published, but as always seems to be the case, other books get in the way. One of these days I'll focus entirely on that.

Last week, I went on a search on for Cold Fire by Dean Koontz, and The TV Kid by Betsy Byars. The former is because I don't think I have my years-long copy anymore, and I need it back in my permanent collection. The latter is because it was my favorite book when I was a kid. I was hooked on it when I was 8 years old and it was always with me as I grew up. I didn't own it, but I checked it out from many school libraries.

The hardcover illustration from The Viking Press, circa 1976, has a large facial profile of Lenny, the same profile in shadow on a TV set with knobs next to the screen, and a snake coiling itself around one leg of the set, its head on the shelf underneath. The story involves Lenny's addiction to TV, the dullness of his life at the Fairy Land Motel, which his mother owns, and his desire for something television-like in his life, which leads to an empty summer house and that snake.

I watched a lot of TV back when I discovered The TV Kid, and played a lot of Nintendo, so I was immediately attracted to it. And I loved the barren atmosphere of the Fairy Land Motel, as evidenced by the first page and a following paragraph:

"Lennie was in front of the motel washing off the walk with a hose. He directed the spray on a chewing-gum paper and some grass and twigs. He watched as the trash went down the drain.

A truck passed on the highway, building up speed for the hill ahead. Lennie glanced up. He watched until the truck was out of sight.

"Aren't you through yet?" Lennie's mother called. "You've got to do your homework, remember?"

He turned off the hose. "I'm through."

He started toward the office. At that moment his mom turned on the neon sign, and it flashed red above his head. THE FAIRY LAND MOTEL--VACANCY.

Lennie paused at the concrete wishing well. There was a concrete elf on one side and, facing him, Humpty Dumpty. With one hand on Humpty Dumpty's head, Lennie leaned forward and looked down into the wishing well. On the blue painted bottom lay seven pennies, one nickel, and a crumpled Mound wrapper."

I decided it should be in my permanent collection. As I get older, I always take with me what I've collected in previous years, as I imagine everyone does in some way. But it took some time to find this particular hardcover edition because I didn't want the latest paperback of it from 1998, which doesn't have illustrations. I wanted what I knew.

And I found it on from Thrift Books in Auburn, WA. It had been listed in good condition, and all I cared about was that it said "Viking Press, 1976" in the listing. I received it today, and I am very happy at what I've found.

This is a discarded copy from "Simonds School Library", an elementary school, I'd imagine since The TV Kid is geared toward elementary-school kids. I Googled it and found one Simonds Elementary in San Jose, California, another in Madison Heights, Michigan, and another in Warner, New Hampshire. I'm thinking it may have come from the San Jose Simonds, because of it being relatively closer to Auburn, compared to Michigan and New Hampshire.

On the inside page after opening the cover, there's a "Date Due" slip of paper glued to the inside of a due-date card holder. And there are dates stamped, and crossed out, though the year isn't listed. And it turns out that it did come from the San Jose Simonds because at the bottom of words stamped in red, below the reasons it could have been taken out of circulation, it says, "Deselected based on EC 60500 and BR 3275."

The regulations come from the California School Boards Association. And EC 60500 ( states: "For the purposes of this chapter, governing boards shall adopt rules, regulations and procedures for prescribing standards for determining when instructional materials adopted by them and either loaned by them or in their possession are obsolete, and if such materials are usable or unusable for educational purposes."

So this school determined that it had no use for this copy of The TV Kid. And I'm glad for that because it's found a comfortable retirement in caring hands. I won't let it go ever again.


  1. I ordered the book about the Garfield assassination from amazon. It should be here next week.


  2. I think so too. I won't tell you if Garfield dies because I don't want to spoil it for you. Book ownership is so addictive, isn't it?

  3. Please don't. I'm hoping he makes it because Chester A. Arthur just doesn't seem fit to be president. ;)

    It is, but I've had to stop with my temporary ownership (temporary unless I like the book enough to add it to my permanent collection). I've hit the ceiling on it, since I can't ransack my entire savings account for books. I need nearly all of it as a cushion (except for that which I've already spent on books, obviously) to begin saving more when I find a job after my family and I move to Henderson.

    So my last books ordered for now are "Becoming Justice Blackmun: Harry Blackmun's Supreme Court Journey" by Linda Greenhouse, "Justice Brennan: Liberal Champion" by Seth Stern and Stephen Wermiel, and "Louis D. Brandeis: A Life" by Melvin I. Urofsky, all for my interest in the Supreme Court, spurred on further by reading "American Original: The Life and Constitution of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia" by Joan Biskupic, of which I'm on page 144.

    I do have a few books for my preliminary research for my 1930s Hollywood history book, but more research will have to wait until after I move. I will not be part of the library here again because of it being operated by a corporate outfit from the east coast (Long, convoluted story, but the short part of it is that the City of Santa Clarita wrested control of the valley's three libraries from the County of Los Angeles (which has hundreds of thousands more books and therefore very valuable to me), and then fobbed them off on LSSI, which runs libraries that various city governments oversee), and I'd rather wait to sign up for a new library card over there. But for right now, I can't do any more than what I've got because I'd completely wash out my savings account and again, need it to begin living once I'm there and seeking work and hopefully finding it.

  4. FWIW, there is a used copy of "The TV Kid" for sale at the Desplaines Public Library. They have a nifty selection of books donated and/or pulled from circulation.

    Sounds like I am a little late to the party, but what the hey, I'll pass it along anyhow...

  5. Still appreciated, and I'm happy that "The TV Kid" is still around elsewhere.

    I couldn't reach the Des Plaines Public Library offerings anyway, being out here in California, and I get what I can get from Your comment reminds me of one major thing I look forward to when I get to Las Vegas: The used-book sales to be found at local libraries. There are also a few used bookstores in the area, but there's more of a community feeling with those sales at those libraries. Those books more than likely came from people in the area, and you get some insight on what your fellow residents have been reading.

  6. Why did I think you were in Illinois? Sorry about that!

    Anyway, I'll be at the DPPL next month for my kid's event. If it's still available and I remember it I'll have to pick it up.

  7. Hey Jackie. No worries, and no apology needed. I could never live in Illinois anyway. I was born in the tropical climate of South Florida, I was told that I had been to New York when I was a baby, I don't remember the cold, and I've found that I thrive best in winters that don't require 34 layers of clothing.

    What event is your kid participating in?