No Less Valuable, Just Because it’s no Longer Perfect

The words flew from my mouth before I realised what I had done. ‘Of course you can borrow it,’ I said.

My wish for others to enjoy this book just as much as I had, wiped out all common sense. Seconds later, the book was no longer in my possession and I thought, Crap! How am I going to explain this tonight?

You see, it was my daughter’s book. One she loved. One she hadn’t yet finished reading. Without intending to, I had overstepped a boundary. What sort of message was I sending by lending out something of hers without seeking permission first? What would I have done if the situation was reversed, and she’d given away something of mine?

Of course, I apologised profusely the minute she got home from school. She wasn’t too happy about it, but luckily we had another book she’d been excited to read, and all was forgiven.

The book was eventually returned, and at night we snuggled in bed to pick up where we had left off. Brave Katie Crackernuts was about to rid her step-sister of the sheep head she had been cursed with, whilst outwitting evil faeries in order to save a dancing Lord.

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Lady Kate, cursed for her beauty and forced to live with the head of a sheep.

 

But Katie Crackernut’s pages were stuck together. Her story was impossible to read. My daughter was devastated, and I felt like I’d let her down all over again.

In the morning, I tried steaming it over a kettle, but that only made the damage worse. Time for another dose of parental guilt.

But then, the most serendipitous thing happened.

Google suggested a book restoration service – mere minutes from my house. Actions speak louder than words, as they say, so I hightailed it to Muir Books before school let out for the day. Tucked away on Lindsay Street in Northbridge is the most gorgeous, olde world book shop in Perth. I felt like I had stepped into another world. The renovated and heritage listed ‘horse stable’ – built in the late 1890’s – had shelf upon shelf of rare, out-of-print books. Antique furniture and old, framed prints were crammed everywhere I looked. I was captivated, and my parent guilt melted away. Maybe this was going to end well after all.

The owners were lovely. It didn’t matter that I had brought a new children’s book into their antiquarian bookstore. They understood completely where the book’s value lay. The amount of time they spent discussing the options with me was heartening. It’s rare to get un-rushed service like that these days, and with the rain pelting down outside, I could have spent my whole afternoon in there.

A few weeks later I collected the book. The pages had been separated, but not all the print could be saved. It was still readable however, and that was what mattered. It was explained how the repair could be taken further, by splicing the precious, autographed page into a new book. I had a new copy of the book ready, but I realised the original was even more special in its current condition. It had started developing a story of its own. It was showing the first signs of age. Of loving wear and tear – like the dents and grooves in a family’s kitchen table, or the growth spurts of a child’s life marked within a door frame. I left the decision to my daughter, and she was happy to accept the book as it was.

And I hope that every time she reads it in the future, she will remember that it’s okay, everyone makes mistakes – trying to put them right is what matters. That the solution to a problem will be there if you look hard enough. And that if you love something, it is no less valuable just because is no longer perfect.

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I may not have talked her into dressing as Vasilisa for Book Week this year, but she did ask if she could bring the book to school for the community reading session after the costume parade.

 

(My previous post on this book can be read here.)

24 thoughts on “No Less Valuable, Just Because it’s no Longer Perfect

  1. Is there something in the Katie Crackernuts story that offended the person? Do you think the pages were deliberately stuck together on that story, or random stickiness that was just carelessness?? I can’t believe the person would give you back a ‘damaged’ book without any explanation or confession or apology! I think you’ve handled it beautifully and I’m so glad to hear there is an old-world type shop that restores old books. We have a lady down here in Cowaramup would you believe, who also restores antique and old books. I must go and visit her one day and take a look at what it entails. I bet it’s fascinating.
    I’m very glad you have a happy ending to this story, Marie!

    Liked by 3 people

    • I honestly don’t think the damage was noticed before the book was given back – I certainly didn’t notice it until we went to read it that night. But it was amazing that the pages were the exact ones we were up to. Go figure! Katie Crackernuts is an awesome character – she’ll never be forgotten now! 😆
      The shop owner described the restorer’s process – it did sound amazing and I would love to have seen it.
      You’re lucky to have such a specialised service in Cowaramup! I think there are only one or two up in Perth.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Some of my favourite books are the ones that show just how loved and well-read they are. Love Muir Books! My favourite place to look for books about WA’s history and ogle over the ones I can’t afford. lol 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Muir Books was amazing – I will definitely be going back!
      My one remaining book from childhood (also of fairytales) is well and truly battered, and my childish handwriting is permantley inked inside it.
      Thanks for stopping by, Jess 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  3. What a lovely story, good for you for making it into an unforgettable one, very inspiring and makes me want to go and grab my kids from school and go ye olde bookshop hunting (only I’m not sure my teens would appreciate it lol. Well, at least there’s still my eleven year old she’d come! And btw what about the people who gave it back in that state? But I guess that’s not the point of the story 🙂 bravo!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Karin. Yes, I like how this situation turned out in the end – I learnt so much from it.
      And I was able to appreciate the antiquarian bookshop so much more for not having any children in tow – I don’t think they’re ready to savour such moments yet, but hopefully one day…
      Thanks for stopping by xx

      Like

  4. So much to love here! First, that last pic….Thing 1….darling…I’m a Seuss fan too! Second, it’s been my experience too that when I blow it, my daughter is forgiving. Just the other day, I said: Now that you are 21 you can fully appreciate that adults really don’t have it all together all the time. (My husband and I are mulling over a major life change and that’s messy!) She replied that she’d known it for a long time and it did help relieve her of some of her self-inflicted pressure to have everything figured out and to do everything perfectly. Families and friends are just flawed individuals trying to get along. Finally I’m glad your story had a happy ending and I do think it’s fun that the book has an additional story attached to it!
    P.S. I really wish I could spend a day in that bookstore!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Michele! Lol – I have so many fabulous photos from years of Book Week parades. I’m really going to miss it – but I love the Thing 1 costume too – and that she planned it all with a good friend – AKA Thing 2 😆
      Thank goodness our children are forgiving – I’ve stuffed up so much over the years, but I try to apologise wholeheartedly when I get it wrong, and do what I can to set things right in her perspective (I know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of hollow apologies from a close family member…).
      I think I’m finally getting the hang of this parenting thing after thirteen years… 😆
      Best wishes for your potential life change – hopefully I’ll get to read about it when you’ve had enough time to consider it fully. xx

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m sure you’re a wonderful mom! A counselor I saw to help me through my brother’s death gave me the following parenting advice: “Go the loving way!” That’s it! My daughter’s favorite high school teacher took me aside at the ceremony to tell me that my husband and I had done well. “Natalie knows you love her,” she said. I still get teary remembering that moment. Despite, our flaws and mistakes, we did well, because she knows she’s loved. Kids are so forgiving and wonderful and parenting is so fulfilling. Hugs

        Liked by 1 person

      • I got teary reading that! What a beautiful thing for Natalie’s teacher to say ❤️
        I love that advice, ‘Go the loving way.’ Such a simple mantra to use whenever you’re conflicted. I think I’ll start using that one myself! Xx

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I have loaned books to friends before and then they have loaned them to other friends and members of their family (without asking?) and they’ve come back to me kinda sticky and hmm. Well. Let’s say you sound much more forgiving than I am!

    Liked by 1 person

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