One of the busiest shopping days of the year...my two favorite customers of the day...
"Can you tell me where the zombie section is?", asked a young man with a crew cut and wearing a college sweatshirt.
"We don't have a zombie section," I said. "Though there are quite a few zombie books. There's the ZOMBIE SURVIVAL GUIDE and WORLD WAR Z, do you know about those? I think those are on a promo table over here...", I say, walking toward the table. I said. "There are zombie books all over the store." I start walking. I hand him the ZOMBIE SURVIVAL GUIDE and WORLD WAR Z. Into the humor section and I handed him JACK AND JILL WENT UP TO KILL and the ZOMBIE HIGH SCHOOL YEARBOOK. "Over this way there are a few more..." and I hand him the ZEN OF ZOMBIE and ZOMBIES VS. NAZIS."
"Wow, thanks," he said.
A woman, maybe mid-50's, shoulder length brown hair, came up and asked if I could help her find the Judy Blume books.
"Sure," I said, walking further into the children's section. "They're right over here on this endcap."
"No, not these. I want the ones for teenagers."
"Ah, those are over in this other area," I said, walking toward the teen section. As I get there I see that we are out of stock on the teen Judy Blume books. "And we don't have any in right now, I can check another store? Or order them in for you?", I tell her.
"No, that's okay," she said. "Can you recommend something for a 13 year old girl? A young 13 year old girl?"
"Sure. Do you know what she's read before or what she likes?", I asked.
"She's very religious," she said.
"Ah. Do you want a religious book for her?"
The woman shook her head no and gave me a meaningful look.
"You'd like her to have something that isn't religious?"
"Yes," she said.
"Is she very sheltered?"
"Yes," she said.
"You'd like to broaden her horizons a little bit?", I asked.
"Yes," she said, seeming to be more relieved with each question I asked.
"Well, I believe that anything a child reads that lets them imagine something different or think about different things is helpful...I have a few ideas...13, and a young 13 is a little tricky, there's a lot for high school aged kids and a lot of great stuff for a little younger kids." One that's great is THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH, the boy in it is about 11, but he has some adventures. It's fun and gets kids thinking. Another great one is THE ISLAND OF THE BLUE DOLPHINS. A girl is left on an island by her people, and she has to figure out how to survive. It sounds grim, but it isn't. Another great one is JULIE OF THE WOLVES. It's the story of an Eskimo girl who lives with wolves." I thought about THE WITCH OF BLACKBIRD POND, but thought that the parents of this girl wouldn't like that one, as the main character struggles against the strict confines of her religious community.
"These are great," she said. "I'll take a look at these and decide. Thank you for your help!"
About an hour later I was up at the register and she came up to check out with another bookseller. I stopped by and asked her, "So what did you decide?"
"I decided not to get a book at all. Her parents are too strict and they wouldn't like anything I'd want to pick out. Thank you for your help, though. I'm just going to go a different direction with a gift for her."
"You're welcome. Have a good holiday."
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