|With Theodore Taylor, 1992|
This morning on Facebook I saw this illustration about reading, posted by the Frugal Frigate Children's bookstore. Boy, does it brings back happy memories.
In 1989 Katherine Thomerson owned the Frugal Frigate in Redlands, California and hosted my first, of what would be many, signings there. This charming bookstore was in an old brick building around the corner from a bakery where she bought a basket of large sugar cookies every morning. Whenever we stepped inside her shop, a tiny bell jingled over the door and she greeted the kids by name, offering a cookie. "Here, have another," she'd say. My boys adored her.
When Jenny of the Tetons arrived from the publisher, Katherine phoned me at our apartment: "Kristi, they're here!"
We raced downtown.
I hadn't yet seen the books, only the cover. So when I pulled back a flap of the carton and saw the real thing, twenty hardcovers stacked so pretty, I got choked up. They had that wonderful aroma that goes back to the first day of school when we'd put our noses inside our brand new textbooks. Katherine handed me Kleenex, the boys hugged me, strangers cheered.
At one Frugal Frigate signing I shared a table with Theodore Taylor, the venerable author of fast-paced adventures. A World War II vet, he helped with the movie Tora! Tora! Tora!, based on his book Air Raid--Pearl Harbor!
I'd long been a fan so I was star-struck, but he put me at ease and we became friends. The Hostage, about killer whales being trapped near Vancouver for a marine park, stirred my boys with compassion for these wild animals, and The Trouble With Tuck, about a good ol' dog inspired our family to get a puppy. We have a shelf of his books with personal notes from him. In 2005 he sent his memoir, Making Love to Typewriters, inscribed, "Dear Kristiana, Such a pack of lies! Love, Ted."
His kind words for my writing encouraged me to keep going.