The Plight of the Young Bibliophile (Alissa Grosso)

I was lucky enough to have a pretty decent collection of books as a young child. As any book lover knows, there are always certain books that stand out as being favorites. For me this included gems like The Cat on the Dovrefell, a book that proved remarkably bizarre when I went back and read it as an adult and the classic, but horrifying Millions of Cats. Obviously, I had a thing for cats, though it's worth noting there aren't actually any cats in The Cat on the Dovrefell. So maybe it was just a thing for animals, because another one of my early favorites was The Berenstain Bears' Picnic. For Berenstain connoisseurs this was an early entry in the series that was markedly different from their more familiar didactic tales, it pre-dated the entry of Sister Bear and featured bolder artwork. I quite loved this book.

Unfortunately, for me, besides an animal-centric library, I also had a little sister. She was, from an
early age, something of a terror. During one of her early screaming fits I allegedly asked my parents if they could just send her back. My parents were determined to keep her, though they have said if she had been their first they probably wouldn't have had another.

I don't have any actual proof of this, but I'm pretty sure my sister is the reason they started putting child safety locks in cars. Certainly that time she flung the back door of our car open while strapped into her car seat as my mom was cruising up Route 17 in the general vicinity of Ho-Ho-Kus, NJ was a good argument for better safety features in cars.

It was her car antics, of another day, though, that I'm writing of, because, at least for me, if not necessarily my mom, it was a more traumatic experience than the whole flinging open the car door episode. On this particular day we were driving through a busy, suburban area. I was sitting in the front seat (airbags did not yet exist, so this was totally safe) and my sister was in her carseat in the back. As much as I loved books, I could not read them in the car without becoming carsick. My sister did not suffer this malady, but in a cruel twist of fate, she also was not much of a fan of books. Still, she happened to have one to entertain her (and perhaps my mom hoped, to keep her out of trouble) on our drive. The book in question was my own The Bears'  Picnic.

Behind me I heard a noise, and turned to see what was going on. I watched in horror as my sister flung my beloved book out of our moving car's window. I reported the misdeed to my mother who was busy trying to safely navigate the congested road. It was clear to me she did not understand the gravity of the situation.

We had to go back and get that book, I explained. I loved that book. I needed that book. I would not be consoled by the fact that we had other books. I believe tears might have been involved.

Because she loved me as much as I loved books, my mom found a place to turn around. I stared out the window to spot my book on the side of the busy road so that I could point it out to her. My mom risked life and limb to retrieve The Bears' Picnic and mend my temporarily broken heart. So this literary tale of loss and love has a happy ending.

Alissa Grosso still loves books and has written a few of her own, specifically the YA novels Popular, Ferocity Summer and Shallow Pond. Find out more about her and her books at


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