It doesn't happen often, but it happens. A mom, a little girl, a boy - most frequently a dad, and what does that say about men and reading and their interests? - approaches the librarian looking for a book that will assist a child in learning about something that he or she wants to know about... and the book does not exist.
Horrors! Gasp! But I'm not kidding here. As much as I complain and moan and groan about the formulaic nonfiction put out by so many publishing companies, I am also grateful that at least somebody has put out a kids' book on stem cell research, or Latvia, or Garrett Morgan.
Because nobody has published one (at least not recently) on radiology. Or star lacrosse players. Or Randy Rhoads (or any other rock drummer that I can think of).
Dictyophora duplicata, stinkhorn mushroom. Nosara Peninsula, Costa Rica. Photo by your neighborhood librarian.
I have no mushroom guide for kids. I want to find Katya Arnold's book, but it's out of print. I wonder if this is because mushrooms can be poisonous, and people worry that mentioning that some mushrooms are edible will cause legions of little kids to go out back and chow down on whatever they find in the backyard. Me, I have a little more faith in kids. And I have enough trouble getting kids to eat the mushrooms that come out of my pan on the stove to honestly think that a kid will willingly bite into that thing growing off the stump that looks like solidified alien brains and smells like dog poop.
Spaghetti sauce. Photo by your neighborhood librarian, all rights reserved.
Speaking of eating, I don't have a vegan cookbook for kids, although some vegetarian cookbooks include vegan recipes. And no macrobiotic or raw-foods cookbook for kids. The only thing to offer kids on a gluten-free diet that I've found is the very sadly titled No Cupcakes for Jason. And let me tell you, even if I had that in my library... NO WAY. The Jason in our school is a Nathan, and Nathan deserves a more affirming title to support his difficult dietary path.
The Oxymorons at the Lauraville Fair. Photo by your neighborhood librarian, all rights reserved.
And when the little rockers come in looking for a biography for the dress-up biography assignment (and I know some librarians can't stand that assignment, but I look back fondly on the year I convinced an 8-year-old and her family to let her dress up like Angela Davis), I do not have a bio of Dave Mustaine or even Dave Grohl... I got nothing. Hendrix, Bob Marley, John Lennon - all of whom have terrific bios out - NOT what the metal kids are looking for. I can't even find a stand-alone bio of Ozzy. He's easy to dress up as, and - bonus - converts to a ghastly trick-or-treat costume just by adding a headless rubber chicken and some fake blood.
Now, granted, the lives of rock gods do not always make perfect reading for children. But if you can do it for Jimi, you can do it for Jimmy Page. Maybe not Keith Moon. Or Slash. But still - if I had a Jimmy Page bio and a Lars Ulrich, I'd be good to go.
But don't get me started on women rockers. Or women's team sports. Kids' biographies of these are as rare as biographies of female popes.
Not enough aviation books, or books of hot rods. Dance (other than ballet). And you would think the only old stories that come out of the entire African continent are Anansi and Sundiata. Biographies of African American artists that aren't Romare Beardon or Faith Ringgold or Grandma Moses. Costume - historic, dramatic, fashion, international - there isn't enough of that.
Urrgh. My brain just frizzled. Never write a post about something you're frustrated about on a Monday.