Last Saturday, I had my first book signing session of 2010 at one of Aruba’s finest bookstores and it was not an hour of sit-and-wait. This time it was even called ‘Children’s Book Festival at … with …’ for a change, and it worked! I didn’t have to look over the table barrier to find my adorable readers. I was right there, sitting or standing at a reachable distance.
The short, but lively evening was filled with a mini Puppet show (no, not me) and some life entertainment (yes, that would be me) from local authors. And I could fill this post with ooh’s and aah’s, because it was that amazing; the rapping and rhyming and singing and listening, participating. But, it was at the end of the performance, – when the store is happy, because you did what you had to do: make books and reading fun (and increase sales) – that I get my moment of joy in life.
“Who will join me and rap a poem, sing or share any story with me?” I asked my young crowd. It was a shy bunch, and I know everything about shyness. I was ten times more cautious than all of them together, at that age.
“Oh, I almost forgot. There is a prize, of course. A very special gift for the most courageous ones,” I challenged them.
One little boy put up his finger and I waved him to me (before he could back off). He didn’t dare to look around to realize what he’d just done, instead he fixed his eyes on mine, smiled at me with a mouth full of newly grown teeth and walked up to me. I asked him if he had a poem to share, he nodded and took the microphone from me.
While I was standing behind him, letting him take over the stage, he knocked me off my socks. He knew one of my lesser-known poems by heart and rapped it in front of everyone! When he turned around for approval, he discovered total admiration and proudness in my eyes. The loud applause will remind him, for the rest of his life, that you can accomplish anything if you have courage and passion. When he took his well-deserved prize out of the bag for me to sign, and he told me, “I’ve always wanted to have this book, but my parents couldn’t afford it,” I almost drowned in my swallowed tears. I was certain; I’d given more than a signature to this brave little fellow.