Why did I think I could ever walk into The Bookies, my favorite bookstore, without buying something new? Yesterday I was minding my own business, picking up Jeff Anderson’s wonderful grammar-in-context title Mechanically Inclined for a group of teachers in my district, when Shelly, a book buyer for The Bookies, handed me Patricia MacLachlan’s latest title, Word After Word After Word.
“Here,” she said. “You need to read this. You’ll love it.”
MacLachlan’s beautiful prose fills this small book. It tells the story of a “real life” author (based on MacLachlan herself) who visits a fourth grade classroom and helps students to learn the power of words. In the beginning of the book, a boy asks the author why she writes. Here is her response:
“I, myself, write to change my life, to make it come out the way I want it to. But other people write for other reasons: to see more closely what it is they are thinking about, what they may be afraid of. Sometimes writers write to solve a problem, to answer their own question. All of these reasons are good reasons. And that is the most important thing I’ll ever tell you. Maybe it is the most important thing you’ll ever hear. Ever.”
The fourth graders go out to find their own reasons for writing. And in the process, they realize the author is right.
And Patricia MacLachlan is right.
And Shelly at The Bookies is right:
I needed to read this book.