Saturday, April 20, 2013

"This Book Changed My Life"

A woman called out with a frown,
When surprised by some callers from town,
"In a minute or less,
I'll slip on a dress—"
But she slipped on the stairs and came down.
The above limerick popped into my head yesterday. It was one of my favorites from the Arrow Book of Funny Poems, a book I purchased nearly half a century ago through the Scholastic Book Club. Remember the Scholastic Book Club? Nothing but Christmas could equal the anticipation of waiting for ordered books and the thrill when they finally came—delivered right to your desk by your teacher, your order form tucked neatly between the pristine, brand-new-book-scented pages.

I looked up the Arrow Book of Funny Poems on the Internet. It's out of print, but you can buy it used on for—get this—$0.01. No, I didn't misplace a decimal. That's one cent. A penny. One one-hundredth of a dollar. I don't think I've ever seen anything for sale on for a penny—or anywhere else, for that matter (at least not since the price of a gumball soared to a nickel). Of course, shipping costs $3.99, which makes the actual cost of the book $4.00—probably about eight times what I paid for it when I was a kid.

Still, it's worth it.

There was only one customer review, with the heading: "This book changed my life." This bit of hyperbole made me laugh—until I thought about it. The Arrow Book of Funny Poems and other books I ordered from Scholastic Books when I was a kid turned me on to reading and, eventually, writing.

By golly, this book did change my life.

And guess what? Kids can still experience the thrill of ordering books like this at school. That's right, the Scholastic Book Club still exists. Not only that, but Scholastic holds the American publishing rights to the Harry Potter series.

Well done, Scholastic!


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