© 1981, 1994, 1998, 2001Robert M. (Bob) Leahy
2110 E. Crosby Road
Carrollton, TX 75006
(972) 416 - 6098
Approximate Word Count: 2,375
Ambrosia Goes to the Library
The heavy dictionary, the one her father kept near the computer, slipped out of Ambrosia’s hands. It fell to the floor with a loud thump. It thumped again when the five-year-old tried to pick the large book up again.
“What’s going on in here?” asked Ambrosia’s mother, as she came into the den.
The little, blond girl looked up at her mother, after struggling to get the dictionary to stand propped against her leg. “I dropped it, Mommy. It’s too big.”
“It is a big book,” her mother agreed. “Why did you try and pick it up?”
“I need it for my library,” Ambrosia replied. She reached down and tried to pick the book up one more time. As Ambrosia struggled to lift the dictionary off the floor, her mother came into the room and reached down and picked it up.
“Show me what you’re doing,” her mother said.
Ambrosia darted out of the den and scampered down the hallway to her bedroom. “See?” she asked, standing just inside the door, pointing across the room to a great pile of books. “I’m making a library. Emily said it was a building of books. And that’s what I made. See?”
Her mother smiled.
“When’s Aunt Jane coming, Mommy? She’s going to take me to the library, isn’t she, Mommy?”
“Aunt Jane will be here soon, Honey,” Ambrosia’s mother replied. “And we’ll all go to the library after lunch.”
The young girl walked over to the books and knelt down beside them. “See,” she asked again. “I made a building of books: The Cat in the Hat, Horton, One Fish Two Fish, Green Eggs and Ham….” Ambrosia pointed to each book as she recited its title. All of her Dr. Suess books, all of her Barney books, all of her Madeline and Curious George books were stacked on top of one another. “And I have Emily’s books, too.”
Ambrosia’s mother wanted to ask if she remembered to ask her older sister if she could borrow her books, but she didn’t interrupt. She noted that there were Nancy Drews, Harry Potters, and Little House books piled to make walls for a large room. Large and small, thick and thin, red covered and blue covered, paperback and hardback, every book in the house had been gathered together. Ambrosia had even gathered up the encyclopedias and the phone books to help build her library.
“Can you bring that big book over here, Mommy?” Ambrosia asked. “I want it right here in the middle,” she said, pointing to an empty spot in the middle of the ring of books.
Her mother set the book down, and said, “My, you have been busy, haven’t you.”
Ambrosia nodded, then turned around and picked up one of her dolls. “Okay,” she said to her doll, “You can go to the library. Did you bring your library card?”
Ambrosia’s mother watched her play for several minutes, then turned and left the room.
“Where is your library card?” Ambrosia asked her doll.
“It’s in my purse,” the youngster answered for her doll.
“You need to give it to me,” she instructed the doll.”
“Okay,” she replied for the doll. Ambrosia picked up a small, pink, plastic purse and opened it. She pulled out a red, leather wallet. Inside, in a clear, plastic sleeve, was a white card.
“Are you Ambrosia Hunter?” she whispered to the doll.
“Yes, I am,” the young girl said in reply.
“Okay. You can have some books. Do you want The Cat in the Hat?”
Just as Ambrosia started to take the book out of the pile, her mother snapped a picture of her daughter.
“Why did you take my picture, Mommy?” Ambrosia asked.
“I want to remember the day you built a library,” she said.
“Here’s your book,” Ambrosia whispered, returning her attention to her doll. “Be sure you take good care of this book and bring it back next week. Emily says you have to bring the book back.” For a moment, the little blond-haired girl was quiet. Then she turned around and looked at her mother. “When is Aunt Jane coming?” Ambrosia asked.
“She will be here for lunch,” her mother replied. “I’ve already told you a hundred times.
“Did you want another book?” Ambrosia whispered to her doll.
“Yes,” she answered for it.
Ambrosia’s mother took another picture and then she left the room.
When Ambrosia’s mother returned to her daughter’s bedroom about a half an hour later, the little girl was still playing in her library. All around the room, dolls and stuffed animals were propped in front of open books.
“Ambrosia,” her mother said, “look who’s here.”
“Shhh,” Ambrosia said, putting her finger in front of her lips. “Emily said you can only whisper in the library.”
“I’m sorry,” her mother whispered back. “I forgot.”
Before her mother finished apologizing, Ambrosia stood up and ran across the room and hugged the dark-haired woman standing next to her mother. “Aunt Jane,” she said. “Look. I made a building of books. It’s just like the library.”
“So I see,” Aunt Jane replied. She looked at the large ring of books surrounding the dictionary. “It looks like every book in the house is in here,” she said.
“Yes,” Ambrosia agreed. “I made a library.” The youngster turned to her mother and asked, “Can we eat now, Mommy? Then we can go to the library.”
Ambrosia’s mother tussled her daughter’s blond hair. “Yes, we can eat now.” And the three of them went to the kitchen to eat.
All through lunch, Ambrosia told her mother and Aunt Jane to hurry. She was so busy hurrying them with their lunches that she ate little of her own meal: just two bites of her sandwich, three swallows of milk, and one potato chip.
“Aren’t you going to finish your sandwich?” her mother asked.
“No, I’m all full,” Ambrosia replied. She looked at her mother’s plate and then at her aunt’s. Both were empty. “Can we go now?”
“Have you washed your face and hands?” her mother asked.
“Aw, Mommy,” Ambrosia asked, “do I have to?”
“Of course,” her mother replied. “And so do we.”
Ambrosia darted off to the bathroom to wash up. Her mother and aunt laughed as she scampered out of the room.
On the way to the library, Ambrosia sat in the back seat. She clutched her pink, plastic purse in her hands. Her new library card was inside, in her little, red-leather wallet. At every stop sign or traffic signal, she anxiously looked out the window. “Are we there yet?” she would ask.
“No, not yet,” replied her mother.
Or, “Soon,” replied Aunt Jane.
When the car came to a stop in the parking lot of a large, gray building, Ambrosia looked around. “Why are we stopping here, Mommy?”
“We’re at the library,” her mother said.
“Where is it?” the youngster asked.
“It’s right in front of us,” her mother answered, pointing to the gray building.
Ambrosia frowned. “It doesn’t look like a library to me,” she said. “I don’t see a building of books.”
“That’s because the books are inside,” Aunt Jane said
“Inside,” Ambrosia repeated. She was disappointed.
“Yes,” her mother replied.
And Ambrosia’s expression brightened a little as she thought about all the books that would be inside the big, gray building. She unbuckled her seatbelt and climbed out of the car. She took her mother’s hand and hurried her around to the front of the building. A long set of stone steps led up to the doorway. Huge gray columns towered above the steps. Ambrosia was too anxious to get inside to notice how many steps there were or how hard it was for her mother to keep up with her.
“Slow down, Honey,” her mother said between gulps for air. “I can’t run up steps the way you do.”
Ambrosia said, “Okay,” but she only slowed down a little.
Aunt Jane had to help push the revolving door. It was so big and so heavy. It was made of large panes of glass. Inside the revolving door was a huge, dimly lit room. A wide staircase was on the left. And across the room was a large counter. There were more lights at the counter, where several people stood.
Ambrosia was about to complain that this library was no building of books as her mother steered her toward an open doorway just to the right of the counter. Beyond the door, Ambrosia caught a glimpse of tall shelves of books. The shelves were taller than she was. They were taller than her mother. And there were rows and rows and rows of shelves. All of them were full of books.
When Ambrosia, her mother, and Aunt Jane finally entered the brightly lit room where the shelves and shelves of books were, Ambrosia said, “It really is a building of books.” She remembered to whisper. She stopped at the doorway, her mouth dropping open and her eyes growing wide. “I’ve never seen so many books.”
. Ambrosia noticed how high the ceiling was. She noticed ladders along some of the stacks of books. She moved closer to the first shelf of books. She looked straight up, and all she could see was shelf and shelf of books. Most of the books looked like her daddy’s books. They were red or green with gold or black writing on them. Some were tall. Others were small. Many were thick. A few were thin.
“This is the adult section,” Aunt Jane said. “The children’s section is on the other side of the building.” Ambrosia followed her mother and Aunt Jane as they walked down the center of the room. They walked between row upon row of shelves. Shelf upon Shelf of books.
“How many books are there?” Ambrosia asked.
“I don’t know,” Aunt Jane said.
“And you can read all of them?”
“Anyone you want,” Ambrosia’s mother replied.
“Did you read all of them?” Ambrosia asked, her voice rising in wonder.
“No. Not all of them,” Aunt Jane replied. “I would like to read more of them than I have time for.”
“Me, too,” her mother said.
“Oh,” Ambrosia replied. But she didn’t really understand.
“Today, we’re going to the part of the library that’s just for you,” Ambrosia’s mother said.
“Yes, there is a big children’s section here at the library.”
“Oh,” Ambrosia said again. She didn’t understand that either.
They continued to walk past more rows shelves. And Ambrosia continued to stare at the shelves and shelves of books.
She couldn’t count how many rows there were. She didn’t know how many shelves there were. She couldn’t imagine how many books there were.
“You really could build a house with these books,” Ambrosia said, at last. “You could.”
After the long walk across the huge room of books, Ambrosia, her mother, and Aunt Jane reached a closed door along the back wall. A large, green dragon, with red and orange eyes smiled down from the poster on the door. “Welcome,” read the sign beneath the dragon.
They went through the door and entered another brightly lit room. But this room was smaller than the one they left. And the ceiling was not as high. And it didn’t have as many rows of books, and the stacks were just a little taller than Ambrosia.
But it still had a lot of books. There were more books than Ambrosia had seen in one place before--at least, more books than she had seen until today.
Aunt Jane led Ambrosia and her mother over to a small table. There were several books scattered across its top.
“Why don’t you sit here and look through these books for a minute,” Aunt Jane said. “I need to find the librarian and check on something. I’ll be back in a minute, and then I will help you find a book to take home.”
“Okay,” Ambrosia said. Ambrosia walked around the table. It was painted red. There were four chairs. One yellow, one green, one blue, and one orange. Ambrosia picked the yellow chair. It was just the right size for her.
In front of her, Ambrosia saw all sorts of books. There was a book with pictures of dogs. There was another with pictures of cats. But the book that caught Ambrosia’s eye had a large, yellow horse on the cover.
There was a little girl with yellow curls who rode the horse. That little girl looked a lot like Ambrosia. Her curls fell to her shoulders. She looked very small atop the big brown horse with the star on its face. When the girl stood beside the horse, she was only as tall as its legs. Her Daddy had to help her climb up into the saddle.
“Oh,” Ambrosia said. “I’d like to do that, too.”
“Remember to whisper,” her mother told her.
Ambrosia took time to study each picture of the horse. She studied the little girl, too. She imagined herself on the horse. What fun it would be to ride it.
“Ambrosia?” Aunt Jane said when she returned, carrying an armload of books.
“Oh, Aunt Jane,” Ambrosia said. “Look at this.”
“Not so loud,” Aunt Jane said. But she sat down in the green chair next to Ambrosia and looked at the book with her. “Would you like to take that one home to read?”
“Sure,” Aunt Jane said.
“And I can read it to you. And so can Daddy. Even Emily might read it for you,” her mother said.”
“Do you want to look for something else?” Aunt Jane asked.
Ambrosia said she was happy with the book about the little girl and the horse, so the three of them walked out of the smaller room, back into the big room with the rows and rows and shelves and shelves of books in it. They had to walk past all of them again. They stopped at the long counter. Ambrosia was too short to see over the top of it.
“Did you find something interesting to read?” a woman wearing glasses asked as she peered down over the edge of the counter.
“Yes,” Ambrosia replied as she smiled up at the woman. Aunt Jane handed the woman Ambrosia’s book.
“Do you have a library card?”
“Oh, yes,” Ambrosia said. She opened her small, pink, plastic purse. She reached in and pulled out the red, leather wallet. She took the card out of the plastic sleeve and handed it to the woman.
The lady put the card into a machine. And then she opened the book about the little girl and the horse and held it up to a machine like at the grocery store. It beeped for the book. Then the lady handed the card back to Ambrosia.
Ambrosia returned her card to its plastic sleeve. She closed the wallet and put it back in her purse and snapped her purse shut. The woman was holding the book out for Ambrosia when the little girl looked back up at her. “Thank you,” Ambrosia said.
“Thank you, Miss Hunter,” the lady said. “Be sure to bring it back in two weeks.”
Ambrosia promised she would.
Then Aunt Jane checked out all of her books.
“That looks like a lot of reading,” the woman behind the counter said.
“I was lucky to find so many of the books I needed here,” Jane told the woman. “So much of what I need is already checked out at the college.”
“We hear that a lot,” the woman said, finishing up with Aunt Jane’s stack of books.
As they started to leave, Ambrosia asked, “Can we really keep them for two weeks?”
“Sure,” her mother said.
“And then we can come back?” Ambrosia asked.
“Yes,” her mother replied.
Ambrosia took one last look at the big room with the rows and rows of books. She thought about all the big and small books, all the fat ones and thin ones, and all the tall ones and short ones. “And we can have all of those books?”
“Sure, all of them,” Aunt Jane said.
Ambrosia sat in the backseat of the car on the way home and looked through her book. She liked the pictures of the little, blond girl with the curly hair. She liked the horse. “I like the library,” Ambrosia said. “I can’t wait for it to be two weeks so we can go back again.”
Both Aunt Jane and Ambrosia’s mother smiled.