Eleven years ago I met a new friend. Our sons were in the same first grade class, and somehow we discovered a common love of books. For a teacher librarian like me, loving books is expected. In her profession, it is not so common. With her book knowledge, people assume she is a librarian or a teacher!
We have spent hours walking hundreds of miles around the lakes and trails in our community, and inevitably, the talk turns to books. Sometimes we visit The Red Balloon Bookshop and spend an hour browsing, bringing titles for the other to see, and purchasing lovely books (or too many books, according to our husbands). Often on these visits, she brings a list of names, all of whom will get a book recommended by me.
Last night as we lamented how our sons sometimes do not complete their assignments on time, she told me about a history paper that was submitted late this week. Her son enjoyed learning about the topic, Japanese-American internment camps, and he especially liked a book I had recommended to her long ago. Dear Miss Breed, we said simultaneously! Written by Joanne Oppenheim, it is a compilation of letters written to Clara Breed, a San Diego children's librarian who encouraged her young patrons to write letters to her during their incarceration. After reading the 250 or so letters, the author then contacted some of the surviving correspondents and some of Clara Breed's relatives. It is a fascinating book about a courageous woman and the ways she eased some of the horrors of camp life for the young writers. And it brought a picture of that life to the history paper.