Monday, February 02, 2009

Stories, Books, CDs, and Fast Scrabble

--In Progress
More later--

I bought three books and two CDs from the tellers. Three of them are inscribed to Mr Shaw's Stars.

What a fun time was Saturday! On Wednesday Sheila picked up last Sunday's Atlanta Constitution and noticed a story we had missed. It told of the Pike Piddlers Storytelling Festival in Brundidge, Alabama. The Festival would start in Brundidge on Friday and move to nearby Troy University on Saturday. And it would feature three of our favorite storytellers: nonogenarian Kathryn Tucker Windham, Cuban/Georgian spitball carmen Agra Deedy, and everybody's favorite, Donald Davis. The fourth headliner was a familiar name, but we had not heard his stories: Bill Lepp.

Long story short: we called, reserved tickets for the 10 a.m. Saturday show. The others were sold out, but we hoped to stay get in as stand-bys for the 2 p.m. show. We called my nephew Gil who teaches aeronautics at Auburn and asked to crash at his house Friday night.

All went according to plan. We had a lovely evening in Auburn visiting with Gil and Naomi and their precocious sons. After the boys were asleep Gil dug out the Scrabble tiles and he and I confidently, then frantically, then desperately, arranged and rearranged our tiles and were thoroughly skunked as Sheila and Naomi won round after round of Fast Scrabble. I demand a rematch and soon.

Gil and Mark were headed to a swim meet the next morning. Naomi was busy with school work. But Lewis was not scheduled. We talked him into accompanying the old folks and off we went down I-85 toward Montgomery, then 231 to Troy. Miraculously there were tree contiguous seats left on the third row of the center section. We enjoyed just a few minutes of live bluegrass before Donald Davis was introduced.

My sister, Debi, and her husband Gregg are wonderful writers and the authors of lots of books during the last thirty years. Gregg has written a couple of books with the famous surgeon, Ben Carson. He and Debi together also wrote a biography of Carson for young people. Now they have updated and redone some of that writing to produce a book to accompany the current TNT movie about Carson, Giving Hands, starring Cuba Gooding, Jr.
Debi dropped a copy off for us today. I look forward to reading it.

Regular visitors to the Limb know that my favorite children's book is The Lion's Paw by Robb White. In 1946 White, a Navy commander during the Second World War, created this wonderful adventure set in Florida during the uncertainties of that great war. Two runaway orphaned siblings meet a boy whose father is a naval officer lost in the Pacific and presumed dead. Presumed dead by the navy, the boy's relatives, and everyone else except the boy and his two new companions. They set out to sail their sloop, newly christened The Lion's Paw, to Captiva Island where they will search for a Lion's Paw seashell to complete the collection the boy had begun with his father. He is sure that, if he can find the shell, his father will make it home.

Robb White's sensory images are crisp and delicious. The suspense is riveting. The characters are real and appealing. Here in the late forties we have a heroine who is resourceful, determined, and brave. Penny ranks with Anne Shirley and Jo March as a model for feminists, in my estimation. It is a story of nature, adventure, resourcefulness, bravery, perseverance, loyalty, loss, discovery, and love.

In 1970 my girlfriend (now my wife) suggested I read The Lion's Paw to my students. Her teacher in Tallahassee, Florida, had read it to her class and everyone loved it, she said. I fell in love with it on first reading and have read it to each homeroom I have had in my 29 years of teaching. I also read it to my own daughters.

The Lion's Paw has been out of print for several years. It has been listed as the most sought after OOP children's book for several years according to Then last fall, Robb White's widow and step-daughter published a facsimile edition that closely resembles the first edition. I've been looking for it at Barnes and Noble. I looked through B&N in Manhatten and even at the marvelous Books of Wonder store on 18th Street. No Lion's Paw.

So one night about nine I was browsing online and found the A.W.Ink website. Their address was several time zones away so I decided to call. Only moments later Leslie, Robb White’s step-daughter called me. We talked for about thirty minutes. And I ordered ten copies of my favorite children’s book. Leslie inscribed each with a nice message. I presented one to each of my daughters, my current and two recent student teachers, my niece who teaches fourth grade, and our school library. I gave another away to my nephew’s family as a bread and butter gift after our overnight stay on Friday. Sheila and I have kept one for ourselves. That leaves only one more for the dozen or so other to whom I would like to give this wonderful book. I should have ordered more!

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