In which Annie (high school teacher, mother of two young girls and a younger boy) and her aunt Deborah (children's bookseller, mother of two young women in their 20s) discuss children's books and come up with annotated lists.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Angel Gave-you

Dear Annie,

How lovely to get a comment from an author of the book you posted about!  I look forward to being able to carry When You Were Small when it's republished.

I suspect that the store that told you Anna Hibiscus is out of print was using the same data base I use for quick look-ups of customer questions.  Amazon, much as I dislike it as a force in the bookselling  industry, has a better listing of books and what's in print than any other free site.  However, especially with smaller publishers, they can be wrong.  They also have been known to banish publishers' products from their listings when they have disputes with them (see Macmillan kerfuffle some months ago).  Anna Hibiscus is not out of print; I just received 20 copies of it from the publisher last week, and their website lists it as in stock and available, so don't despair!  And feel free to tell your local store about it.

Speaking of out of print books, I'll be referring to a few this month.  We have a family tradition of reading a pile of books together on Christmas Eve.  They're a funny mix of books we've accumulated over the years, all of which have a special aura for the four of us, so a number of them will make it into the blog.

I wrote a bit about one some months ago: Angel Mae, by the wonderful Shirley Hughes.  I was referring to Mae's endearingly irritating whine, "Carry me!"  Angel and her big brother Frankie are anticipating the arrival of a new baby in the house: Mum is large and exhausted.  Their school is putting on a Christmas play and roles are assigned: Frankie gets to be one of the three kings.  Mae volunteers to be the baby Jesus, but her teacher says the part is already taken by a doll.
She said that Mae could be a cow or a sheep if she liked, but Mae certainly didn't want to be either of those.  She stuck out her bottom lip and made a very cross face.
"What about being an angel?" asked Mrs. Foster.
Mae didn't want to be an angel either.
"You could be the angel Gabriel," Mrs. Foster told her.  "That's a very special angel, a very important part."
Mae thought about this.  Then she nodded her head.
"I'm going to be the angel Gave-you!" she told Frankie later.
"Angel who?" said Frankie.
"Angel Gave-you!  A very special angel," said Mae proudly.
Mum of course goes into labor just before the play, but Dad makes it to the performance at the last minute, leading Mae to shout from the stage, "Hello, Dad.  I'm being the angel Gave-you," and fall off her chair.  Courage triumphs, and despite a bump on her arm, Mae keeps singing Away in a Manger, and the show is a success.  There's a new baby too, and Mum and the babe make it home for Christmas.



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