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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The Book Store/Library (06/03/10)

TITLE: Be Proud
By Sarah Elisabeth


It was an odd-looking contraption. Oh, it had four wheels and a thunderous engine the same as any bus. But this one was different.

After school on a warm September day it rolled to a stop by the curb. Kids my age – some older, some younger – prowled around it, keeping a respectful distance. I stood to the side, watching the other children giggle and poke one another until the side door of the odd bus slid open.

The little group made a semi circle. A funny, yet wonderful smell drew me closer. The familiar face of my favorite teacher appeared.

“Which of you will dare to enter the library bus first?” Ms. Perris asked, her eyes sparkling with mystery.

I found myself standing by the steps, ducking my head when I realized I was the only one. Snorts and chuckles burned the back of my neck.

Ms. Perris brushed back the sable strands escaping my ponytail. “Well, Mary Anne, it looks like you get to be first. Hand your completed form to Mrs. Grimes and she’ll give you a library card.”

Schoolbooks snuggled close, I gladly slipped past Ms. Perris to the shelter of the smothering interior.

The smell of hundreds of books made me shiver and smile as I raised my eyes to stare in wonderment at the shelves and shelves of treasure. I had never known such a glorious world existed.

Hearing the pack behind me, I quickly made my way to the far corner. I landed in the history section.

Absorbed among the giant shelves, I ran a finger along the titles, licking my lips in anticipation. Mrs. Grimes had said we could choose up to five books each. Which ones would be mine?

No longer a part of the present world, I thumbed the pages of the illustrated history books. I stacked my favorites on the floor beside me: Daniel Boone, The Civil War, a collection of historical fiction, and tales of the Old West balanced together.

“Hola, como estas?”

I squirmed as I met the eyes of the pretty Mexican girl smiling at me. She was new at school, and no doubt looking to make friends. Swallowing, I spoke slowly, my Texhoma accent ringing true.

“No speak Spanish.”

The girl looked hard at me before scrunching her eyebrows and spinning away. I sniffed and coughed, convincing myself the dusty books had stirred up my allergies.

Focused on the shelf in front of me, I determined to choose one more title. Surely I could find…

Native Americans.

My fingers gripped the cover, but I hesitated. Memories of my fair skinned classmates stared at me, and echoes of giggles and whispers rang in my ear.

“Here comes Mary Anne, let’s go.”

“We don’t won’t her to play with us.”

“Pretend she isn’t here.”

I couldn’t understand what the Spanish-speaking children would say about me, but I had to cope with the same shunning from them.

Loosening my grip on the book, I turned to my stash. Four would be enough.

“Be proud you’re Indian.”

My nose crinkled. Why did my daddy’s words have to emerge right now? He didn’t understand anyway. He didn’t know what it was like.

“Be proud.”

The Native Americans book tumbled off the shelf where I had pulled it half out and it landed at my feet. The front cover bounced open on impact and the pages split. I knelt and held it open with one finger.

A beautiful illustration filled my eyes. A young girl stood by the river bank, her hand resting on a painted pony’s neck.

“She looks like me,” I whispered, turning the page. And another. And another. Buffalos, tipis, farms, rolling prairies, forests, children, fathers and mothers took me on a journey I will never forget.

God, this is how you created me.

I was the last one to leave that heavenly library bus.

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This article has been read 715 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Seema Bagai 06/10/10
A well-written piece. I could picture the character standing in the "library" selecting books.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 06/12/10
I could feel the character's emotions roll from one feeling to the next. Good job of bringing the past alive and giving the reader a glimpse of what it feels like to be a young different girl.
Maria Egilsson06/15/10
Sarah, glad that came here to read this. I don't know enough to comment on the grammar and structure but I can on the mood. This drew the reader in to feel the emotions grow in intensity. The open book at the end with the pictures and illustrations... the power of books. Also, encouraging voice reminding her to be proud of who she is. Loved it.
Kate Oliver Webb 06/15/10
I really enjoyed this. Great descriptions, great dialogue. A really well-written piece, and one that made me quite thoughtful about a number of issues.
Linda Germain 06/15/10
Lovely, in every way. Well written.
Marita Thelander 06/15/10
We never had bookmobiles or library buses where I grew up. I could imagine the smell of the bus full of treasures. Well done.
Virgil Youngblood 06/15/10
An enjoyable trip down memory lane, thoughtfully written.
Edmond Ng 06/15/10
A very good read. You've captured the feelings quite well of what it means to be alone in the crowd, although in reality each of us are not far different from the other in thoughts and in the books we read. Interesting take on this topic of a mobile library.
Benjamin Graber06/16/10
Oh, good. A beautiful picture of how books can inspire us to be who God meant us to be!
Susan Montaperto06/16/10
What a beautiful story, using books to show how God how lonely a child can feel and then how God created the child. Keep Writing.
Rachel Phelps06/16/10
Sarah, you completely captured the children's voices and inner dialogue. Wonderful story. Loved it.
Verna Cole Mitchell 06/16/10
What a captivating story with a wonderful message.
Terry R A Eissfeldt 06/16/10
Wow - I loved it - this defies time and culture - because it exposes the human condition - shame ( given or taken) in being who we were created so lovingly to be - BE PROUD! Cause Papa in Heaven is...
Amanda Brogan06/17/10
This deserves its own theme song ... "Ride on the heavenly library bus!" Whaddya think? ;)

I like how the Indian girl learns to be proud of who God made her. I'll bet she'd be great friends with the Spanish girl ... next trip to the bus she needs to pick out a "Learn to Habla Español" book. ;)

Great story and very creative writing!