Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Frigates and books and worlds away
Today as I was picking up around the house, I shelved one of my favorite books. It is THE SCRAPPER by Leland Silliman, and was written in the late 1940's. In it, a young man from a rough background goes to work at a summer camp full of prep school staff and priviledged campers. He learns the value of learning to get along with a class of people he's never been exposed to before, and they learn that valor and honor can come from any birthplace. I first came across this book in our little Christian School Library when I was eleven. I must've read this book a dozen times as a child. I was thrilled to find a beautiful copy for myself on ABEbooks.com a few years ago, and I've read it to my children twice now. For fun I picked it up again this week to read, and it still holds the same joy for me.
But as I replaced the dust jacket (I always remove the dust jackets of books I'm reading and leave them in the book's spot on my shelf.) I noticed the end papers. The frontspiece on the book has a bookplate with the picture of a tall ship. Underneath are the words "There is no frigate like a book...to take us worlds away." -- Emily Dickenson
That phrase--the beautiful words alone--is enough to capture my attention, but the pithy truth of it grabs my imagination. Whether a much loved childhood story of summer camp or a head-hopping NYT best-selling romance, a story transports me to another world, another time and place.
I pray my own books may someday unfurl their sails and skim you across the waves to a world you'll want to revisit again and again.