Sunday, July 17, 2011

A Golden Reunion with My Inner Child

Once upon a time, when I was but a wee girl, I lived in a town that *gasp* had no book shop. But thanks to publishing mastermind George Duplaix and the Western Printing and Lithographing Company, our neighborhood grocer sold a single line of children’s books. With top-notch illustrations by award-winning artists and an affordable price tag, these Little Golden Books became the first I could call my own.

Some of the Golden Books were traditional folk-/fairytales; others introduced new characters—like Tootle (the train) and the Poky Little Puppy—that would become legendary for future generations of children.

It was the latter, of course, for whom I had great affection (more for the illustration, I think, than the plot and moral). So when I learned that my local library was kicking off its exhibit of original Little Golden Books artwork with a special appearance by none other than the Poky Little Puppy, I had to go.

I don’t seek out celebrities, don’t recognize them half the time when I do see them on the street, and would never think to ask for their autographs. But something about my attachment to that slow, spotted puppy suddenly turned me into a celebrity hound. I would take my vintage copy of The Poky Little Puppy to the library and have the pooch sign it.

Naturally, I couldn’t find my vintage copy of The Poky Little Puppy—only my vintage copy of Little Cottontail. After recovering from that first disappointment, upon arriving at the event, I could clearly see I was the OLDEST person there. (I had wrongly assumed this would be a trip down Memory Lane for most of the attendees.) Plus a librarian announced that all the artwork was original EXCEPT for The Poky Little Puppy: It was TOO OLD, hence they were exhibiting digital reproductions of it. As if that didn’t deflate my enthusiasm, the Poky Little Puppy was nowhere in sight.

The crowd was small, yet I realized that the Little Golden Books—in spite of the tremendous number of books that are now published for and accessible to children—remained popular. As a librarian read the story of the wayward canine to the crowd, a young boy sat at her feet and mouthed every word. Sometimes the librarian stopped the tale and threw a question out to the audience. Every kid was eager to be the first to answer. Her final question was, “Would you like to meet the Poky Little Puppy?” And to the buzz of the crowd, the honored guest entered the room.

I was smitten. (How much had my favorite Little Golden Book influenced my future penchant for spotted dogs?) The Poky Little Puppy posed for a pic with each child (and one OLD person!), played a round of “Hokey Pokey” with everyone, and generated smiles all around.

I may not have the autograph I wanted, but I came away with a delightful memory—one that I hope to cherish for many years to come.

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