Brown Paper Packages

We just got back from a library trip. While there, the girls spotted a display of “mystery” books wrapped in brown kraft paper–each with a label containing three descriptive words. Belén choose the package with detective, theatre, and sabotage; Susanna selected Australia, adventure, and brother. After I shoveled our haul into my backpack (except for their precious brown paper packages) we walked the four blocks home, discussing what they might be holding in their hands the whole way. The tone was serious as they calculated the great risks both of them had taken.



“I hope it’s a Flat Stanley book and not anything to do with Star Wars,” said Susanna emphatically. “If it is, I’m not reading it.”

“Or zombies!” Belén added.

“Yeah, do we have to read it if it’s about zombies or Star Wars, Mom?”

I answered sagely, “Well, the whole point of this is to get people to read stuff they wouldn’t normally read. You know, you can’t always judge a book by the picture on the cover. You might find out you really like this book, even if you would’ve never picked it yourself.”

Feeling very wise and mature about my impromptu mini-lesson, I fell into step beside Belén. Shortly after she looked up and asked if I’d taken out a “mystery” book for myself.

“Uh, no,” I stumbled lamely, “I don’t have time for books I don’t want to read.” Ahh… why does parenting have to keep us so accountable all the time?

When we arrived home, Belén instructed her sister to wait to open the package until we were all seated on the couch. An outside observer might have thought they were opening Christmas stockings, or the last Willy Wonka chocolate bar. Susanna suggested I video the opening event, but Belén reminded her with her big-sister voice, “It is just a book.”

In the next moment they tore the paper off and discovered their literary fate.



“Now that’s what I call lucky!” Susanna concluded, holding the exact Flat Stanley she had wished for.

So much for broadening experiences and being open-minded.


PS. I seem to have the most time for creative non-fiction books filled with witty and inspiring essays. I just finished Carry on Warrior this week and I belly laughed and dog-eared my whole way through.


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