Chapter 1: Pierre
A little girl snuggled into her father’s lap after he returned home from work. She peered into his shirt pocket and retrieved a piece of Juicy Fruit gum which she wildly unwrapped and popped into her mouth. Then she breathed in a deep lungful of Old Spice, settled in and listened as he read her favorite story. The name of the story alone was enough to captivate her. It had a certain mystique that made her feel connected to the world beyond her family’s home at 943 Populus Place.
Pierre, A Cautionary Tale in five chapters and a prologue, by Maurice Sendak. When she first learned to read it by herself, she twirled around her room, her flowing brown hair bouncing down her back, her long, lean limbs flaying about. She loved that it was a chapter book. And none of her other books had a prologue. Just pronouncing that word “prologue” made her feel important. She delighted in those opening words every time she read them.
There once was a boy named Pierre
Who only would say, “I don’t care!”
Read his story, my friend,
For you’ll find at the end
That a suitable moral lies there.
The little girl loved words. She loved rhymes. She was just plum crazy about suitable morals. She adored Pierre. She carried that book around with her for five decades, from apartment to apartment and from house to house until it came to its current resting place in its cozy Nutshell Library on her desk, which was nestled in the kitchen, between the pantry and the cat station. As a grown-up sitting at that desk, listening to her cat, Juliet, crack and crunch her kibble, she thought to herself, “If I could find a way to write something that makes someone feel the way I feel when I read Pierre, I will have done a most amazing thing.” She did not know that many years later she would enroll in a writing program in a city near hers that would give her some tools and loan her the confidence she needed to take that challenge.