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There is a mystery at the library.
There is a mystery at the library. One of the books is hiding. It was here last night and now it is gone. A child wants to borrow it.
The librarian and his assistants go looking. Hello little book! they sing. Come out come out! The book does not come out. The mother is negotiating with the child. We could read a different book.
No, says the child.
You've read that book so much, you could replay it from memory.
No, says the child. It is my favourite book and I want to read it again.
The mother starts looking too. She shines her flashlight in nooks and crannies. Books love hiding in crannies.
The librarian returns to the desk. The assistants and mother are still searching, book by book, cranny by cranny. The librarian says: Would you like to attend our 3D printing session? It's upstairs.
No, says the child.
What about Lego? That's in an hour.
No, says the child, It's the book or nothing.
Now the cataloguer and the book repairman and the page come out of the back to help. The page is a teenager and isn't done eating her lunch so she takes big chomps of salad in between feeling behind shelves. All she finds are dust and love letters.
The book repairman starts calling in favours with the books. Have you seen this book recently? he asks. It's small and colorful and old. He is asking a book whose spine he repaired so it owes him. But it does not know where the child’s book is hiding.
The cataloguer starts making threats. Tell me where the book is hiding or I'll destroy your record. I'll make you a stub. The history book she is talking to quivers. It has fifty chapter titles in the record and it's proud of every one. But it does not know where the child's book is hiding.
Soon the entire library is looking: The librarian, the assistants, the page, the cataloguer, the repairman, the books, and even the DVDs and cassettes are helping, and the maps are shouting from the back, asking What is going on, is it a party?
Then the 3D printing session ends. Other mothers and fathers and children stream down into the library. The child gets an idea.
It's okay, the child says loudly. I do not need my favourite book, which I love and adore. I have it memorized. I can 3D print a copy and it will be just as good. Maybe better, because --
Suddenly, out pops the book. It has been hiding in the Canadian history section. It has every color on its cover but its pages are brown from age and sun.
Do you mean that? asks the book. It is in tears. Do you really think it could be better than me?
No, says the child. Then it laughs and takes the book in its arms. I knew you were hiding.
I didn't know you loved me this much, says the book. I thought you were about to get tired of me. I thought that if I hid, reading me again would be like reading me for the first time.
The librarian and the mother and everybody else understands what the book was saying. All of them have read books that weren’t as good the second time. But the child shakes their head.
I could never get tired of you. If I did, I would turn into a grown-up right away. Instead I am going to read you again and again. Stopping reading you would be the silliest thing in the world.
The grown-ups watch this and then they all walk quietly into the shelves. The mother and the librarian and the assistants and the cataloguer and the page and the repairman all find their own favourite books, which they stopped reading years ago because they had to read other books. They sit in a circle reading while children make lego around them. They all look younger, like the day is brighter just on them. Meanwhile the child is with their book in the center, enjoying every sentence. Every illustration. Every curve of every letter. Every colour.