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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Search Engine (10/06/11)

TITLE: Browser With Braces
By Jody Day


Chris Perez schlepped into the public library dripping wet, looking more like a drowned rat than a 6th grade boy. He slid out of his jacket, laid it across the stair rail, and then took off his splattered glasses.

“Chris, please hang your wet jacket up on the rack in the foyer. “ Mrs. Whitmeyer looked at the soggy specimen over her glasses. She knew that if anyone braved this storm to come to the library, it would be Chris, as he’d done every Saturday since he was six years old, rain or shine. She felt she’d lost him, though. He only ever sat at the computer, homework first, then online games.

The boy stomped his shoes on the mat in the foyer, hung up his jacket, shook his hair like a wet dog, and then presented himself to Mrs. Whitmeyer. He grinned his metal mouth at her as he picked up a pencil from her circulation desk to sign in on the public access computers.

“Bad news, Chris. The computers are down because of the storm. I’m sorry. Could I interest you in a book? Have you read Redwall by Brian Jacques or the Left Behind Series for youth?” She stood to lead him to the shelves. He did not follow.

“How…how am I going to do my homework? I waited until the last minute. The project is due Monday and its 60% of my grade. I don’t have a computer at home.” He sat down at the computer anyway, gripped the mouse and stared at the blank, black screen. He turned to Mrs. Whitmeyer with stricken, pleading eyes. “What do I do now?”

“Look around you, young man.” She extended her arms in the direction of the book shelves surrounding them.

“Right, the library, but the computers are down. What’s your point?” He crossed his arms and slouched in the chair.

“Chris, come with me.” She motioned him to follow her to the children’s section. He let out an exasperated sigh, but stood and followed.

“Remember that bean bag? It was your perch for a long time. I must have read The Very Hungry Caterpillar to you hundreds of times.” Mrs. Whitmeyer took the book off the shelf and handed it to Chris.

“Oh, yeah, those story times were the best. Winnie the Pooh, Curious George, yeah, I remember.” He sat in the bean bag and looked around at his old hang out spot.

“So, what’s your homework subject? You can still do your assignment with…drum roll…books.” She pushed her glasses up from the end of her nose, grinning.

“I get it, it’s just so much easier to use the internet. The Constitution.” Chris rolled to his knees to get up.

“Stay put, I’ll be right back.” The librarian returned a minute later with an encyclopedia, a Time magazine featuring the signers of the Constitution, and another book about U.S. historical documents. She sat them on the floor at Chris’s feet. “I may not ‘load’ as fast as your search engine, but here are three ‘links’."

“Guess I don’t have a choice, this storm isn’t going to let up before closing time. Thanks.” He rubbed his face with both hands and sighed as though he were about to shovel a mountain of dirt from one place to another.

Mrs. Whitmeyer watched Chris from her desk. He searched for the information he needed for his homework in the books that she had provided. He sprawled out on the floor, books open, scribbling notes, turning pages. Later he browsed the juvenile section. He plopped back down in the bean bag chair reading Redwall. The curve of a smile pulled at his lips, showing his braces below shining eyes. He didn’t see that his librarian smiled at him over her glasses.

An hour passed before he approached her desk again; reference books under one arm, Redwall under the other.

“Homework done, Mrs. Whitmeyer, thanks for your help. I guess I’ll have to turn it in handwritten.”

“Here, let me check out that book for you, and then I’ll introduce you to another ancient artifact. It’s called a ‘typewriter.’

Mrs. Whitmeyer wrote in her journal that evening: A search engine is good in its place, but looking for a sense of wonder takes time, a storm, and a bean bag chair.

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This article has been read 761 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Tracy Nunes 10/21/11
I loved this! It fit the topic perfectly and made a point dear to my heart. The dialogue would have been better if seperated from the other paragraphs but otherwise it was wonderful. I especially loved the second half.
Catherine Maher10/21/11
I really liked it! Right on topic and showed how dependent we all are on the internet and passing that down to our kids as well. Story line good. I esp liked how he "shook his hair like a wet dog." I could see him doing that.
I love the attitude of the librarian, she is great. Old fashioned ways still work, don't they?
I like how it showed the people relating to each other again and not just staying isolated in front of the computer. Good flow throughout.
C D Swanson 10/21/11
This was brilliant! I absolutely loved it! It made me long for my "younger days" when things were simmpler, and we had to rely on our brains to look things up without merely plugging into a computer to be our brains.

Fantastic depiction of the characters-modern day versus olden days. Great piece.
Great job! God Bless~
C D Swanson 10/21/11
Typo - simpler! should have used "spell check!" LOL.
Sandra Fischer 10/21/11
Loved the title and the story of the "Browser". Well done - and Mrs. Whitmeyer is a wise woman - try new ways, but keep the old; one is silver, the other gold.
Linda Goergen10/22/11
This was a delightful story! Yes it does often seem books are in jeopardy and as I myself own a Nook and marvel at how many books I can download on it, still I often find myself missing the feel and smell of a real book! I don’t think computers and e-books will completely supplant books, but your story gives us something to ponder about the future! Real books, I think, still hold sentimental value for our generation but who knows about the future generations. Lots of food for thought in your well written story! Great job! Enjoyed!
Mona Purvis10/22/11
This is good writing and I think it will score well on the publishable score. I could see the characters and wanted to be in the room to observe. Good job.

Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 10/26/11
I enjoyed this creative story. You did a great job of keeping it on topic by showing the despair of the boy when the storm knocked ant the computers. This is a nice technology meets old-school story.
annie keys10/30/11
This submission was most excellent! I love the way the time in the library came alive for the reader (lucky me!). My parents took me to our local library every week when I was growing up. The rainy days at the library were my most favorite times. Thanks for the 'remembery', my heart is smiling.
Colin Swann11/01/11
Good story which was enjoyable, and as has been said bang on topic. The library must not have been very busy if stories could be read to children - but then USA maybe more laid back than here in the UK. Enjoyed!
Sydney Avey11/04/11
You gave due respect to the computer and then saluted the power of "slow." Very strong ending. Good story telling.