Palo Alto Weekly 27th Annual Short Story
Second Place Children
Journal of a Book
by Chloe Kim
“Scoot over!” the shabby book next to me whispers. Its pages are stained with some kind of brown liquid and its cover is ripped. “There’s no room over here!”
I scoot all the way down the smooth birch-colored shelf and huddle against the wall on the other side. I try to make as much room on the shelf as I can between my shiny cover and the book’s filthy ripped cover. I slump against the wall. I have only just gotten here at the library, and I hate it.
I miss the shiny books that stood tall in straight rows and columns at Benny’s Books, the bookstore I used to live in. I miss the shiny black books with pure white letters on the cover. I remember once I got taken from the shelf where I belonged with all the other red books with shiny covers and crisp white pages with jet-black letters. I was taken to my own personal bookstand and a glass case was placed over my head and I got the honor of staring out the window and having people look at me as they past Benny’s Books.
And here I was – in the library! The lowliest place for books. I had always dreamed of living in a bedroom on a shiny mahogany bookshelf, like the kind I had seen in Best Homes (Benny’s favorite magazines), unopened, untouched, so I would shine and stay clean forever.
The only time I had ever seen a worn book was once when I caught a glimpse of an old dictionary poking out of a customer’s black denim purse. But it wasn’t nearly as old as the book that is lying on the shelf next to me.
Great. What a horrible experience this library thing is turning out to be. Not that it was great in the first place. A little toddler’s hand grabbed me and threw me on the ground. I am currently lying down on my back, on the floor, realizing that there are so many different shoe types. Sneakers, freakily high, high-heeled shoes, flip-flops, leather boots so high I can’t see the tops, brightly colored high-tops. Oh, how I wish I could get back to Benny’s Books where I belong.
Earlier this morning, some sweaty hand grabbed me by my table of contents page, which almost ripped, thanks to him, and stuck me in his canvas book bag.
It’s really gross down here. There is a layer of dirt and a couple of empty candy wrappers. Finally, we (the bag and I) are dumped onto what I am guessing is a chair.
“Patrick and Danny!” someone who I think is a girl calls. “Nana says to stop watching TV and read some books or something!”
“It’s summer vacation,” a boy grumbles. “You don’t read when it’s summer vacation.”
“Yeah,” a younger–sounding boy squeals. “You watch telee-veesion.” Someone picks up the bag by the bottom and I tumble out. I hit a hardwood floor hard. Luckily, I’ve landed on my back and I can look up. The first thing I see is a little boy about four with short brown hair and brown eyes. Then, I see a girl with blondish hair and brown eyes as well. She is about eight and she is carrying a book. An older boy I guess is nine reaches down and picks me up.
“The Adventures of Mr. Pieface?” the girl scoffs. She turns around and sits on a stool in front of a kitchen counter.
“Yeah!” the little boy cheers. He grabs the corner of my cover and runs around the kitchen.
“I’ll read the story to you,” offers the older boy.
“Yeah, Patrick!” cheers the little boy.
“It’s kinda funny,” Patrick says. I doubt he knows this. He hasn’t even glanced at my first page.
Today, I have been returned to the library. I still long to be in the bookstore, sitting on a table or standing tall in a row with other red books. Nothing really eventful is happening at the moment, and I am taking a snooze. I doubt I’ll get checked out today. The librarian hasn’t even bothered to take me out of the book return box.
Today, a girl about seven with reddish brown hair and green eyes has grabbed me. She checks me out and walks me home in her hand – she hasn’t bothered to bring a book bag.
After about ten minutes, she turns into a little cul-de-sac and knocks on the door of a two-story yellow house with thick green grass and daisies growing all over the front yard. The only daisy-free area is a stepping stone path. The girl ignores the path and runs across the grass, stepping on daisies. Dangling from her hand, all I see is a blur of green and white.
When she gets to the door, her hands are full (the other hand carries a fistful of mints), so she holds her hand up and uses me to knock on the door. Ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch.
Finally, the door opens and a woman with auburn hair and green eyes says “Hi, Penelope!”
“Hi, Mommy,” Penelope says.
“Put your things down and come to the table,” Penelope’s mom says. “Melanie and I made some lemonade pops.” An older girl about ten that I’m guessing is Melanie comes over.
“Come and eat it while it’s cold,” Melanie says. “It’s gonna melt in this hot summer sun.”
Penelope dumps the mints and me on a coffee table and runs out of the room exclaiming, “I want the big one! NO! Not that one! I want the big one! Yeah!”
Penelope sits on the couch with me, laughing at the good parts in my story and constantly running over to Mary to show her the jokes. Mary is obviously getting really annoyed with her.
Mary is sitting in front of the computer on the opposite side of the room, writing an essay or something. Eventually, Penelope’s mom comes over and asks Penelope if she wants to go to a friend’s house. Penelope drops me on the carpet and runs over yelling, “Yeah! I do! I don’t mind if Mary comes too! Please?” I lie on the carpet, wishing I could live in Benny’s Books forever.
I got returned to the library today. The shabby book is gone (yay!) but some other book that has been checked out has returned.
This book’s not bad though. He is pretty clean, only one of his pages has been taped back in and there is only one rip in his cover. He says his name is Elmer Green’s Wooden Horse by Linda Meyers. He claims he has several awards. He has been pretty busy being checked out recently, so I kinda have to admit I think he’s telling the truth. I don’t like him that much though. He has several other more popular book friends like Mixing Dreams by Mira Peterson and Cat by the Window by Katie Nelson. He’s so braggy anyway. I never said I was jealous.
Some kid came today and checked me out. She was just kinda sitting there in front of the bookshelf, staring at the wide assortment of children’s books.
Elmer Green’s Wooden Horse and Cat by the Window were goofing around and they apparently “accidentally” knocked me off the shelf. Ouch! I calculated that that was the third time in the past six days. I remember that in Benny’s Books, Benny treated every one of us books with care.
The girl picks me up curiously. She has straight, shoulder-length brown hair and green eyes. She reads about me inside my cover and decides to keep me. She walks up to the librarian at the counter where she slams me and three other books. Ouch! Really? That’s the second time today.
“I am going on a vacation to Hawaii for two weeks. I know that usually books are due a week later but I won’t be able to return these on time, so will you renew this ahead of time?” she asks.
“Sure, that’s fine with me,” the librarian replies. She turns to the computer, types something, and then says, “Okay, you can return your book in two and a half weeks.”
I gulp. (Yes, books can gulp, somehow.) Great. I was going to Hawaii! For two and a half weeks! That means a thousand drops on the floor and being stuck in a suitcase for six hours. (I overheard Elmer Green’s Wooden Horse talking to another book about how he went on a trip to Hawaii also.)
“Mom, do you have all my clothes?” The girl who checked me out the other day asks.
“Yeah, Kristi,” Kristi’s mom replies. “But I can’t seem to find your other shirt.”
“Which one?” Kristi asks as she gets up from the bed, grabbing me off her bed and putting me in her sparkly green backpack.
“The green one with black sequins,” says her mom.
“Oh, I put it in there already.” Kristi gestures toward the green canvas suitcase leaning on her bed.
“Okay we’re all set then.” Says her mom. She walks down the hall to a room farther down shouting, “Maya and Eric, stop arguing and finish packing! We’re leaving!”
Kristi zips the backpack shut and the world goes dark inside the backpack.
“Hey, we’re gonna be here for six hours, why not make friends?” says a cheerful voice.
“Friends?” I ask. I’ve never had friends before. I didn’t even think I needed one.
“Yeah,” the voice says. “We can chat on the plane.”
“Which book are you?” I ask.
“I am Toothpaste Man by James Winters, but you can call me Tooth for short.” Tooth says.
“Really?” I exclaim. “I am The Adventures of Mr. Pieface by James Winters as well, but I’ve never really thought of a nickname.”
“Hmm… what about Pie?” Tooth suggests.
“Pie! I love it!” I say.
“Where are the other two books?” I ask.
“They are in the suitcase,” Tooth replies. “You’ll meet them soon.” We chat for the rest of the day. For once, I have forgotten about Benny’s Books.
Today I have met all the other books. Turns out they are all by James Winters! I guess Kristi really likes his books. They’re called Beano the Popcorn Lover and No No, Bo. Their nicknames are Beano and No No. They’ve all met before.
We are currently in a hotel room. This is so exciting! I get to sit on the mahogany bookshelf of my dreams! I am so, so, so, so, so, so, so excited! I sit on the mahogany bookshelf and smile and laugh and have sooo much fun.
Beano and No No nap on the shelf. (Tooth is being read and she goes everywhere with Kristi.) They don’t get what’s so great. But then again, they weren’t the ones that lived in Benny’s Books and dreamed of a mahogany bookshelf until they were evilly snatched off to live in the library.
Yay! Weee! This is so fun. I’m sitting on the shelf of my dreams!
This is wonderifical!
This is fun!
Pretty fun! I still wish I could move around a bit.
Okay, this is getting a little boring.
Why did I ever want to be a new book in the first place? Suddenly, I realize that I have been having fun, traveling to different houses and meeting different people. I just have been feeling so down and sad I haven’t realized how fun this has been.
Somebody! READ ME!
Bored, I watch Kristi. She is writing in her journal. Maya, Kristi’s older sister is packing a bag with inner tubes and sand toys. I guess they are going to the beach that I have been staring at for the last week on the shelf.
Maya pulls Tooth out of the bag. “Kristi,” Maya says, dusting the sand off Tooth. “Are you done with this silly book yet?”
“Yeah,” Kristi says, closing her journal and dropping it on top of the bed she is sitting on. Maya shoves Tooth on the shelf between Beano and I.
“Come and get a new book, Kristi,” Maya advises. “We’re spending the whole day at the beach and I recommend you grab a book just in case you get bored.”
Kristi stands up and stretches. She walks around the bed and heads toward the bookshelf. She shoves Maya’s thick, tiny–lettered books to the other side of the shelf and stares at Beano, No No and I. I wait and hold my breath. Please pick me, please pick me, please pick me. Please, please, please. Kristi is staring at Beano. She reaches out to grab him. NO! Can’t you see I am right here, bored to death? Kristi grabs me instead and throws me in the bag.
Ouch! I land on a hard plastic shovel. It hurts, but it beats sitting on that shelf all day. By far.
When we get to the beach, I watch Kristi and Maya’s twin brother, Eric, kick sand at each other. Then Kristi joins Maya on the soft striped towel where I am lying. They read together.
A gentle breeze flips my pages and I hear seagulls call in the distance. This beats staring at black and gold books and watching Benny move books around. By far. I have friends now. Nice, wonderful, amazing friends.
I have had so many adventures. Whether it’s going to Penelope’s house or being flung around the house by a little kid and being returned the next day, it’s always new. And, being a library book, I expect that I will have many more adventures. All of them new, all of them exciting.
I wonder why I ever wished to sit on a shelf, never opened, never used, just to appear pretty. I must’ve been crazy back then.
I might get dirty. I might get ripped. I might be dropped on the floor millions of times. But at least I’ll know how to live a fulfilled life and have fun and adventures.
It's risky to write from such an unusual point of view, but this young writer has pulled it off beautifully. The protagonist, a book, even learns a wonderful life lesson. The main character grows and changes in the course of the story.