At one of the book fairs I just attended, a delightful girl perhaps five or six years old stopped by my table and locked her eyes onto one of my books. I could tell that her mother was somewhere nearby but not next to her. I asked the child if she’d like to hold and look at the book. Her eyes lit up as she vigorously shook her head with a smile that could warm a cold day.
She picked up the story and slowly read it page by page. I got distracted for a moment and when I looked back, out of the corner of my eye I thought I saw the last quarter-inch of my book as it slipped into the cloth book bag that hung on her shoulder. I figured I was probably just imagining things and that she must have put the book back onto the pile on my table before leaving. I moved onto other things and forgot about it.
About an hour later a rushed up to me with a worried look on her face and the little girl in tow. The woman explained that her daughter had indeed put the book into her bag without paying for it. The embarrassed parent explained that the two of them often went to the library, and there they would collect books, put them into their bags and when they were done take them to the checkout counter. Her little angel thought that’s how it worked at a book fair too. Her mom apologized. I laughed, told her I completely understood, and thanked her for her honesty.
The story had a happy ending. The mom bought the book, her daughter got to keep her treasure, and I got another warm memory and the knowledge that the characters in my story were in loving hands.