Beth is right about how being scared is a matter of perspective, age, and experience. While I was perusing picture books at Wild Rumpus, I was followed by a very curious, and persistent, bantam rooster. I remember being terrified as a child by these creatures when I visited my Great-Uncle Maynard’s farm in southern Minnesota. Of course, now that I have grown taller since then, roosters (or chickens) no longer frighten me, although they still creep me out.
I sat down in an overstuffed chair at the shop, with my arms full of books. The rooster followed. It stood a few feet away and stared at me. Clucking. It could probably smell my fear. (Can poultry smell?) In any case, I tried to distract myself by picking up a paperback reader from a nearby spinner rack. It was Arnold Lobel’s Owl at Home. It was written over 30 years ago, but it was still compelling. Lobel’s stories are simple, appropriate, intriguing, and never condescending. They even have touches of true poetic beauty. I thought of the new Stone Arch Book reader sets we had completed this season, and the impact they will have on our youngest readers. Hopefully, the stories we tell will stay with a child long after they’ve grown and moved on to chapter books and graphic novels. After they’ve outgrown their fears, too. Like beady-eyed roosters.