Friday, November 16, 2007

The Library Tree

In case you are just now tuning in, for the past three days I've posted one chapter from my chapter book The Library Tree. For your viewing pleasure here it is once more all bundled below in a nice little packet.

There's probably a reason why this book was never bought by a publisher, but if for some bizarre reason you want to own a copy to find out what happens, then simply go to my website and click on store ( or visit Amazon and do a search (note: only the copies on my website come signed, numbered, and dated...but if by chance we ever cross paths on the street I'd be more then happy to sign it.)

If you enjoyed this sampled, but can't afford to buy a copy then save your money and buy the book a publisher actually did deem worthy to publish in April; if you simply hated the samples, then please don't hold it against me...I'm sure you'll like my other book more.

Chapter the First
Have I Got a Secret to Tell You

The first thing you should know is librarians will deny this—all of this—the entire account. And why shouldn’t they? If what I say is true, which they will all surely say it’s not, then everyone will want a library tree—there wouldn’t be any need for libraries at all. And if there weren’t a need for libraries, then who would need librarians? Does all that make sense? Yeah? Okay.

Now the second thing you need to know is why I’m telling you this…settle down would you? I’m going to tell you about the Library Tree in a second—actually, in a paragraph, but you’d better not skip to the next paragraph to find out. Okay? Okay. Now as I was saying…the second thing you need to know is why I’m telling this to you. It’s not for the money. Yes I did get a lot of money for telling it, and yes I bought a new car (17 new cars actually, but only one of them flies), and yes, I bought every video game ever made, and also a movie theater screen to play the games on—but it wasn’t about the money…okay so it was kind of about the money…fine it was mostly about the money. But it was also because people have a right to know the truth.

Okay so the Library Tree…wait a minute—you skipped ahead didn’t you? If you did, then I guess you missed the part where I explained how to turn a single piece of broccoli into a one million dollar bill. And if you didn’t skip ahead, thank you…I really am proud of you. What a good reader you are—I really look forward to having you as a reader for the duration of this book (or as long as I can keep you interested…whichever comes first). So the tree…

I was as clueless as the next guy about the tree until I became a librarian myself. And believe me, when I found out, I was shocked. On my first day as a librarian, they pulled me to the back of the library and said, “There’s something about the books in this library—all libraries actually—that you need to know, but before we tell you, you must swear you’ll never repeat it to anyone…ever.” So I swore—and I swear that I meant what I swore until I was offered that hefty sum of money, which in turn convinced me that people had a right to know this tale. There are several things you need to know about the tree, and a few things you might actually want to know, but I’m not going to blurt them all out here—for goodness sakes, I haven’t even got through with chapter one yet. I have to leave some of it for the other chapters. Here’s what I’m going to tell you: the Library Tree grows books. Many years ago, libraries had a dilemma—there just weren’t enough good stories. Writers had run out of ideas and it was rare for libraries to get new books. Librarians were almost certain the lack of books would ultimately force them to close. Then one day they discovered a way to grow new books. It was cheap, reliable, and certain to never run out of books—as long as it was watered, groomed, and properly cared for.

Are you interested? Intrigued? Perhaps shocked? And it’s all true. Go ahead and ask any librarian and see how nervous they get as they deny it. As you can imagine, librarians hate me for hashing out this secret of theirs, and it’s on this note that I’ll end chapter one. But you’ll definitely want to stick around for chapter two because you haven’t even heard about the monsters that grow the trees (who may or may not be evil and have armpits that stink of sweat), or of the one-legged, two footed, 2 feet tall, Siberian ninjas who guard the trees, or even about Jake—the wimpy little boy who discovered it all.

Chapter the Second
Ralph: The Keeper of the Tree

Well thank my jolly Georgia blue-eyed toad—you’re back. I was afraid we’d never meet again.

Did that last sentence in Chapter One keep you around? Maybe I’ll use it again, then.

Okay, so what should I explain next? You’ll have to forgive me for writing in such a scattered fashion. Even though librarians now hate me, I’m still a librarian at heart, and as such my mind is a little strange—a hazard of the job I’m afraid. You see, librarians by their very nature are…well not right in the head is the best way to put it—insane is another word commonly used.

That’s why they demand silence in their libraries—betcha didn’t know that. Too much noise makes them start to jump up and down and scream incoherent words and ramblings—believe me, I’ve seen it happen and it’s not a pretty sight, so don’t make too much noise around them.

Okay? Okay.

Please forgive me for that previous paragraph, but like I said, librarians are not right in the head, which also happens to be why I can’t remember why I wrote the previous paragraph. I ramble sometimes. Forgive me. What was I going to tell you next? Oh, yes…ninjas.

The thing is librarians are usually pretty smart people. When they came across the Library Tree, they knew that the most important factor in its success would be keeping it a secret from the outside, non-librarian, world. They knew they needed someone to guard the tree. So they hired one-legged, two footed, Siberian ninjas who all share a common first name: Ralph. They have no last name—they’re funny that way.

Now these ninjas are the most intelligent, deadly, and stealthy ninjas that are known to mankind, which I’ve always thought to be strange since most of mankind doesn’t know about ninjas at all.

It so happens that the librarian who first discovered the Library Tree lived for some time with a colony of Ralphs before he became a librarian. His name was Salinger. He was a mysterious fellow. When he was barely a man—only 19—he went on a journey around the world to find out his purpose in life. That’s how he found the ninjas, or rather how they found him. He was living in Siberia.

Late one night he heard a loud noise, which made him have one of those insane librarian fits that I was telling you about earlier. He screamed like a mad little girl—or at least that’s how the legend goes, although he would later deny the girlish nature of the scream. When he came to his senses, he had no idea where he was and only vaguely had recollection of who he was—and that’s when the one-legged, two footed ninjas found him. He lived with them on their colony of ninjas for many months and they helped him discover his true calling: being a librarian.
So it really should be no surprise that when librarians banded together and asked the ever important question, “Who will guard this sacred book producing tree?” Salinger said, without any hesitation, “Ralph.” And when the librarians said, “Who?” He explained, “one of the one-legged, two footed ninjas I used to live with while I was soul searching in Siberia.” And the other librarians said, “Oh.” Seeing as how none of them had a better idea, they agreed. So that’s who guards the Trees to this very day.

The ninja that was the keeper of the Tree at my library…wait, have I even told you about my library? Let me check…no, I haven’t. Sorry about that. It’s not really important, but I’m going to tell you anyway, because even if it means nothing to you, it still gives this story a certain reality. Okay? Okay. It’s called the Harbor Branch Library. It’s in Orange County, California—more specifically, Anaheim. Does that ring a bell? It should…that’s where Disneyland is. That’s about the only thing you need to know about it—that it’s near Disneyland.

Okay, now as I was saying before I so rudely interrupted myself, the library ninja. He was a quiet ninja. When he did speak, it was usually a weird bit of factual trivia like, “Say, did you know the length from your wrist to your elbow is the same length of your foot?” And when I’d say no, he’d always say, “Really? I can’t believe you didn’t know that!” Then he’d get defensive, stand in front of the tree with his nunchakus drawn, and say, “You’re not really a librarian are you?” I’d stare at him like he was nuts and he’d say, “Well you’re not getting past me.” Then he’d give this loud, insane laugh—like a witch. He was goofy that way.

Ralphs were quite different, despite all of them sharing a similar first name. All Ralphs loved to throw out weird trivia, but each one specialized in different kinds of trivia—some knew all sorts of entertainment facts, others specialized in science trivia, and still others knew all there was to know about math. Our particular Ralph was quite commercial. He threw out facts that always seemed to go with mainstream trends. He also took his love for commercialism a notch further.

What I mean by this is that he was into whatever the latest fashion trends were. He insisted on librarians buying him whatever the latest most expensive shoes were, having hair that identically matched the current hot celebrities, and wearing shirts that were eccentric, yet trendy. He was also fashionable—he never once wore socks that didn’t match his belt.

Ralph was a fine ninja, and I surely would’ve never been able to win a fight against him. But he was still a man, and thus had a weakness. Now you may be thinking, “Of course he had a weakness—he had only one leg and two feet!” If you’re thinking this, then you’re wrong. You should see the kicks Ralph can deliver with that one leg and two feet—powerful enough to knock a tree down. No—his weakness wasn’t his leg—it was Skittles. He was addicted to the stuff. All one-legged, two footed ninjas are (but not two-legged ninjas—they’re quite a different story). All you have to do to get past him to get the tree is throw enough Skittles on the ground to keep Ralph busy for a few minutes (bear in mind, however, that Ralph will track you down after he’s eaten his Skittles, and then of course you’ll be really sorry…I kid you not).

It was quite a funny sight to watch him. Every Skittle he ate, he’d say, “Skittles—I can taste the rainbow!” Did I mention that he spoke with a Spanish accent? Well he did and this made it all the funnier.

I probably shouldn’t have told you about the Skittles thing. I mean not to tempt you or anything, but you could totally get a Library Tree of your very own now. All you need is a bag of Skittles. I’d erase it, but then I’d have to hit the delete key on my keyboard and I’m kind of lazy that way. And hey, it gives librarians one more reason to dislike me.

So for what it’s worth, there you have it—Ralph—which brings us to the end of Chapter Two. But stick around, okay? I can’t believe I haven’t told you about Jake. Half of this account—okay, most of it—is all because of him. And did I mention that Chapter Three has game cheats for every video game ever made? No? Well that’s probably because it does not include game cheats for every video game ever made…or does it? Look, would you read the chapter already? If you will, then I promise to end this chapter right now. Okay? Okay.

Chapter the Third
Jake the Once Nearly Sometimes Great

Oh…hello. Welcome back. I didn’t expect to see you quite so soon, but I’m really glad you’re back. Really.

Okay, so you want me to just get right into it? Certainly would be a nice change of pace, huh?

Well all right then…as I was saying before, or actually I guess I was implying, but it’s all good—am I rambling again? Sorry. Anyway…Jake’s important to this story to say the very least. I’ll
tell you how and why a little later, but first I want to tell you a little more about who Jake is.

Jake is a ten-year-old wimp—a nerd—a dweeb. It’s pretty sad when even a librarian makes fun of you, and that’s exactly what I did. Never to his face of course, but we still did it, nonetheless.

How could we not? If you saw him, I’m sure you would join us. He wore thick glasses, he frequently tripped over his own big feet, and more than once I heard him talking to himself. If that’s not a boy crying out to be called dweeby, then what on Earth is? Maybe that sounds harsh—especially from a librarian—but I promise it will all make sense later, so just deal with my harshness, okay?

Do you want to hear more about him before I tell you why he’s important? How about a description? Okay, here you go:

Jake had ears that were too large for his head, hands too small for his body, and a voice that was often mistaken as that of a little girl—nothing about him seemed to fit. His t-shirts were too large; his pants were so tight that all of the buttons had popped of long ago; and his shoes were so oversized that they flopped at the front end when he walked. How’s that? Is that a good enough description? Fine—let’s move on…

The first day I met Jake is not important, but I’m going to recount it anyway because it seems like a good way to fill the space, and I guess in some respects it is also kind of funny (they are very small “respects,” however, and I doubt you will notice them…in fact don’t even try). Anyhow, the first day…it was a Thursday—or maybe it was a Tuesday—no I’m pretty sure it was a Thursday…in fact I’m positive because it was Thursday because that is the day that I always set aside for being extra rude to people. But honestly the day’s not important, so forget that I acted like it was. Okay? Okay—let’s move on.

So on this Thursday, I was sitting at that dumb little desk where people are supposed to go (but rarely ever do) to ask the librarian questions…the reference desk is the technical name. I had my head buried in my hands, because I didn’t really want anyone to come up to me, and refusing to make eye contact was always a good way of doing this. It wasn’t like I was trying to be rude or anything. Even though it was Thursday, and I was supposed to be making an effort to be rude I really wasn’t—I just didn’t want to talk to anyone.

Well as I sat there, hands buried, I heard this little voice say in an almost inaudible mumble that sounded like a little girl, “Excuse me, mister.” It was just a mumble, so I decide to ignore it.

Mumbling kids tended to go away if you ignored them and refused to answer their question. But the first thing I suppose you should know about Jake is that he is persistent, and of course said again, in a still soft, but a little more audible, girlish voice, “Excuse me, mister. Could you help me?”

The second time he spoke to me I looked up, and acknowledged him. He asked me twice, and he asked it so nicely, so I decided to answer him. “No.” I clearly explained, and then looked down and studied my shoes—I noticed immediately that they were in need of a good polish.

Now this wasn’t the first time I had refused to help a child (not even the first time that day), but it was the first it had not scared a kid off. Like I said, Jake was persistent. He just stood there, scared, but confident, and said the words that I don’t believe I will long forget, “Oh—well why not?”

Here’s something you need to know right off the bat about me—I take my job as a librarian very seriously. My answers are final, and they aren’t intended to warrant any kind of doubt. You don’t question me, and to do so was a great dishonor. So of course that is what he did.

I could only answer his question with a question of my own, “Why not?” Now I hope you’re not reading this, and already forming an unfair judgment of me—believing that my attitude is not right, and that I am a major mean poopy head. I hate to give away any ending to this story, but I think I probably should say that major characters always have to be redeemed, and I, being a major character, am going to have to be redeemed somehow. So go with that…okay? Okay.
Jake nodded, and said, “I’m sorry if I’m bugging you—I just need your help for a second. I swear it will not take long.”

I rolled my eyes. Kids and I don’t exactly get along so swell—did I mention that? Honestly I don’t get along with anyone too well. It’s not that I’m mean or anything, it’s just everyone else is not mean compared to me, so it tends to make me out like mean person.

Anyway, so that was my first of several encounters with Jake. He was such an easy target. But as much as I loved to secretly mock him, I had to treat him kindly. On top of being a quite freaky nerd, Jake was also a bookworm—the library’s number one bookworm, in fact. To this very day, I’ve never seen anything like Jake. He’d read four books a day from cover to cover. I swear the boy must have been able to read in his sleep—how else could he have read so many? And it wasn’t like he pretended to read or only read part of it (this is actually what I do). I challenged whether or not he was reading one day, and he in turn recited from memory the first chapter of the book he was reading. It was amazing.

Now this next paragraph on Jake may or may not be important in the future, so why don’t you take a listen? Or I guess you’d actually be taking a read: Jake’s favorite book of all time is called, Peanut Butter Space Monsters. It’s a series of books, and Jake was always the first to read it whenever the Library Tree would grow a new one. I’ve never read it myself, but Jake told me once that it was all about monsters who were always trying to help people, but people misunderstood their attempts and thought they were mean. Apparently they also liked to eat peanut butter—hence the title. The next paragraph has nothing to do with this one—in fact if this paragraph seems out of place, there’s good reason: it is out of place. I couldn’t think of anywhere to put it, so I decided why not place it any ole place. So that’s what I did. Sorry if it doesn’t feel right, but to place it somewhere proper would have taken a little bit of effort, and I’m afraid I’m pretty lazy when it comes to things that require effort.

Okay, now you have the history of Jake. What you need to know now is that newly potted Library Trees came to my library every Tuesday, and old Library Trees are taken on that very same day. They were delivered by the monsters—you’ll meet them later, so forget I ever said their name. Okay? Okay. Now on the particular Tuesday you’re concerned with, Jake was standing at the double door that led to the back of the library. He did this a lot—like I said, the kid was a nerd and had nothing better to do, but stand by the back door and wait for the librarians to come out so he could bombard them with questions about what the library’s newest books were. He really is a weird kid—I mean get a hobby already! And reading doesn’t count—don’t ask why, because I won’t (can’t) tell you.

Do you have the picture of what the scene looked like? Let me help: Jake is standing at the back door—and I am walking out it—and the tree, which had just been delivered and was blooming with new books, is in plain sight. Somebody had forgotten to move the tree where it couldn’t be seen. Okay…fine, so that somebody was me, but come on—how was I supposed to know a nosy kid would be looking in? Yes I was a bit careless, but it was just that one time—well just that one time that I had been caught by someone.

And of course that little nerd Jake asked the question, “Wow—how’s that tree doing that?”

“Doing what?” I nervously replied and quickly shut the door to conceal the evidence.

“Can I see it?”

“See what? There’s nothing back there. Nothing at all.”

Jake was clearly not convinced. “I know what I saw—that tree was growing books. I want to see it…please.” His “pleases” always came out so polite—it was really quite annoying. That’s another thing about Jake—he’s the most polite person (young or old) I have ever known. His politeness really made making fun of him a difficult task to do at times. I mean how do you make fun of someone who is nothing but kind and polite in return? I found a way, but, like I said, it was difficult. Anyway, back to the story, or rather the dialog:

“Oh that.” I nervously replied. It may or may not surprise you to know that librarians actually go to classes to train them on how to act around nosy patrons who somehow get a glimpse of the tree. Believe it or not, there have been a few other patrons who discovered the tree (if you really want to know about them, then you can go to the end of the story and read “Further Explanations and Exaggerations”), but Jake was the most memorable of them all.

He nodded. “That.”

“It’s plastic.” I lied, “Decoration is all. One of the librarians bought it at a garage sale.”

“Can I see it?”

That’s the thing I hate most about Jake—he is so persistent. I know I’ve said that before, but I can’t stress it enough. And he’s polite (which I’ve also said, but must insist on stressing), which is an annoying combination with persistence. “Only librarians can go back there. I’m afraid you won’t be able to see it.”


“Nope.” I decided to change the subject, “What were you doing standing around back here anyhow?”

“I’m sorry if I wasn’t supposed to. I was looking to see if there are any new books.” That’s another thing about him—he’s always opening a sentence with an apology. Most apologetic kid I know.

“Nope—none today.”

“But there are always new books on Tuesday.” And he was right on that point—there were always new books on Tuesday because that’s when new trees were delivered—but I couldn’t very well go back and get them now—he’d be watching me.”

“Well there’s none today.” I walked off quickly before he could say anything else. Sure enough he watched me the entire day. But I was careful.

But if you think that’s the end of Jake, then I seriously doubt you’ve been reading at all. In fact I think I already mentioned that a large portion of this book is about Jake. He’ll be back in chapter four…so will Ralph, the ninja, and I promise I’ll tell you a little more about the monster. Stayed tuned.

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