Friday, January 6, 2012

Open Books

One of my friends at work has an adorable eight year old daughter. A few weeks ago, K drew me a picture. She worked on it for weeks. It shows two girls with purple hair, whistling. I love it and hung it above my printer at work.

I wanted to give her a present to say thank you. She loves to read, but I was having trouble deciding what book to get her. Her mom told me that she likes to write in a journal, which reminded me of the perfect book. The only problem was that I absolutely couldn't remember anything about the book's title. I could only remember what the cover looked like, which isn't particularly helpful in googling. It's the story of a young girl who spends a summer in the Netherlands with her family and best friend. They travel all over the country and visit classic tourist spots. The author does a fantastic job of embodying the perspective of a nine year old, but I also love the fact that the book is laid out like a journal and mementos from the trip are "taped" into the book and interpreted from the child's point of view.

After an intense googling session using such wonderful keywords as "journal," "young girl," and "the Netherlands" (let's just say that a lot of books have been written about Anne Frank), I finally found it. The elusive book is called "Melanie Martin Goes Dutch: The Private Diary of My Almost Bummer Summer With Cecily, Matt the Brat, and Vincent Van Go Go Go." It's part of a series of books--in addition to the Netherlands, Melanie also goes to New York, Italy, and Spain. I called around to a few local bookstores, but the book was special order at most of them. I finally found it at Open Books, one of my absolute most favorite bookstores. I've already shared my love for First Slice and buying food to support a hunger-relief organization. Open Books is similar, but with books instead. They take donations of used books and resell them to raise money for the literacy programs they have on site. I think it's absolutely genius.

If you live in the Chicago area, you should totally check them out. They are just off the Brown line at Chicago and Franklin (213 W. Institute Place). Heck, even if you don't live in Chicago you should check them out next time you're here--I certainly used to when I would come back to visit (and I might have gotten yelled at by a flight attendant once for bringing an entire bag of books on the plane...)

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