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 abebooks.com 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 abebooks.com 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 (http://www.gamutonline.net/district/hemet/displayPolicy/133894/3) 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.