Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Gifts in the mail (Or: Kindred Spirits in the Library)

Something wonderful is going on up north and most people don't even know about it.

A year long celebration is happening in the tiny Canadian province of Prince Edward Island.
I've never been to Prince Edward Island, (commonly referred to by it's initials PEI), but have often sighed over pictures of the place; it is a jewel box of a place from what I can see.

When I returned to Houston after my time in San Diego I found a box had been delivered to my house from Canada.

The many colorful stamps with a red haired lass and other stamps depicting a house with green gables provided a clue about what was inside.

A closer look at the girl on the stamp filled in all the details: This year is the one hundredth anniversary of the publication of the children's book "Anne of Green Gables", written by the prolific and highly regarded author Lucy Maud Montgomery.

Montgomery's books about the adventures and misadventures of a young red headed orphan girl living at the turn of the last century has entertained at least four generations of readers. PEI was the setting for the story and when the book later was made into movies and television series, the lovely landscapes of Anne's world became familiar and beloved by a population much larger than the 14,000 inhabitants of the island today.

Inside the box was a book mark and an inviting bag of tea. The package was a gift/reward from a fellow blogger/ school librarian/PEI resident "Kathie" who writes the blog Island Sparrow . A month or so back she had a prize contest for people who would send her the names of their favorite children's books.

Kathie also had a mystery: One of her favorite books that she had read as a child was about a boy who had been taken captive by Indians. The boy was not accepted until he learned to hoot like an owl. Kathie said she could remember clearly the illustrations, but had never been able to find a copy of the book today, nor could she remember the title or author of the book.

She offered a "super reward" to anyone who could solve her mystery.
I read her post at reference desk, ( s-l-o-w night....) and pounced on the chance to win.
Using a myriad of highly sophisticated proprietary databases, and my own brand of "thinks different" approach to the problem, I soon had the title, author and illustrator of the work, as well as the name of the nearest public library with a copy in their collection.


I won!
(The title? "Hoot Owl". The illustrator turned out to the be same illustrator that Kathie has been writing about in her post. No wonder she remembered that book's illustrations!)

Anyway...good to her word, Kathie not only sent me a bookmark and tea, she upped the package content with a honest-to-goodness Anne of Avonlea/Anne of Green Gables signature straw hat with Anne style red braids attached!

How sweet!

Then she put some mustard on the gesture:

"We want to see a picture of you wearing this in your library!" Kathie added.

(You should never trust a Canadian. They are a sneaky bunch who will always slip a twist into an activity whenever possible. I personally think this is why they have two official languages in their country, English is for everyday use, and French for when they are plotting ways to tease Americans. They usually do their plotting and planning in those Provinces that we Americans can never spell correctly and therefore never visit. If you can't spell names like Sasakawa (which even spell check in blogger isn't sure is the correct spelling) Manitoba and Saskatchewan, you can hardly book a flight to the place, let alone go about asking for directions, right?
And don't get me started about that provinces with that they ambiguously referred to as Northwest Territory. I mean really, what exactly is it? Is it a territory or is it a province? Why not just call it a "state" or "Vast Desolate Cold Unpopulated Area" and be done with it?)

(B. and I even had to have a discussion about what Canadians call what we call "states" took a bit and we thought they were called "providences". I used that spelling in my original posting and have since corrected it after Lovella pointed out that actually they are called "provinces". I wondered what Vince did that made everyone be so in favor of him so I looked it up. Sure enough, it was from a French word, which as I noted above, is the language Canadians use when they want to be tricky....)

Where was I?

Oh yes, the hat.

Being a really good sport, and because I too LOVE Anne, I decided we here in Houston should also take a moment to take part in PEI's celebration.

With the cooperation of my fellow librarians, we declared "Anne of Green Gables/Avonlea/Lucy Maud Montgomery Day" at North Harris College.

Hope was on board, naturally. She is a kindred spirit of the finest kind. Cajun girls like her welcome fun whenever and wherever fun can be found.

Oh yeah...Let the good times roll!

New on staff Librarian Norma (who speaks with a native Spanish accent,) was also willing to be called "Carrots" for a bit.
(I think she preferred to be called "la zanahoria" though.)
Librarian Karen was good for a moment of channeling Anne to Texas.

Our Olia, the librarian with Ukrainian ancestry, was game too.
I wonder if the Anne books have been translated to Ukraninian? And if Canada would consider naming any future provinces "Ukraine" because it is also tricky to spell?

And here I am, as promised, decked out in a white summer dress, feeling decidedly "Anne-ish" as I go about my duties.

(Note to Lovella: About your haircut today: Have you considered going with a nod towards Anne's hairstyle, to show solidarity with your country's stylish icon? They can do amazing things with hair extentions now you know. It would only have to be that way until the end of 2008...that's only four more months, and you could enjoy wearing a hat every day to boot! I know you are proud to be a Canadian...this is your chance to prove it!)

(Tiggie, the Faithful Orange cat declined to participate.)
Party on, PEI!
We here in Texas salute you!


Lovella said...

Jill. . .what a super fun post. I love it. .The girls at the library are just the best sports. I did think it looked the best on you. Of course we all love you in a hat.
I think I'll mention it to my hairdresser today that I've decided to have braid extensions, in vibrant red. . . just to see what she says.
Oh and I hate to add more smirking from us Canadians but you went on and on about all our Providences. . and we have not a one. . 10 Provinces. . yes. and a couple of territories for good measure.
Still smiling.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful posting. Very fun! We all looked great in that wig. I will miss the fun you brought to our library.

I agree with Lovella. You definitely looked the BEST in the wig. Au naturel. :)

Janitha said...

But Tiggie did kind of participate. His hair is already read/orange.... Only the hat was missing?

Islandsparrow said...

Librarians know how to celebrate!!!

Ah, the teacher part of my job is always coming out in me... you slipped on our province's population. We are small but not THAT small. The pop. is 139,407. Friends of ours just moved here and they have triplets and a 2 year old so that means 139,413. :)

Glad you enjoyed your prize and thanks for helping me locate Hoot Owl!

Vicki said...

I've been a bit absent from blogging for several days, but your post was a fun one on which to return! You really had me hee-hawing!

That wig-and-hat get-up? You looked, umm...hmmm...the word I want eludes me...

Anyway, thanks for the laugh!

Sara said...

Librarians are a very daring and fun bunch of people....and for your next series, I'd love to see everyone wearing those braids Pipi Longstocking style! I don't think Anne would mind, would she?