The Larry Book Festival

As it is not possible to spend this week floating on a chunk of ice about as far north as one can go from Texas, I have reached the only logical conclusion. It is time to host "The Larry Book Festival" in the preschool classroom.

This event won't be patterned after the Texas Book Festival I was fortunate to attend two years ago in Austin. For one thing, Barack Obama and Maureen Dowd won't be speaking. There won't be any authors signing books, or vender tents selling Lemon Snow and Brats-On-A-Stick.

"The Larry Book Festival" won't be McMurtry, either. Driving back from Lubbock in the fall of 2004, I went out of my way to visit Booked Up, Larry McMurtry's collection of stores selling used and antiquarian books around the town square of Archer City. To be honest, all Booked Up did for me was activate my dusty moldy book allergy with a vengence.

The namesake of "The Larry Book Festival" is the charming, smart, clueless, preadolescent polar bear creation of Daniel and Jill Pinkwater. Larry the polar bear is the lifeguard at the Hotel Larry, owned by Martin, Semolina, and Mildred Frobisher. Larry is the brother of Roy, one of the polar bears at the Bayonne, New Jersey zoo. Ever since Larry and Roy's polar bear mother hit each of them on the head and told them to "Get lost. Go and fend for yourselves," I have had a fond, chilled place in my heart for this fending bear.

I discovered Larry, Roy, and their mother polar bear at the library where I worked when my three sons were charming, smart, clueless preadolescents, more or less. It was a good reminder that a parent's job is to prepare teens to get lost and go fend for themselves for the most part. Nature is harsh. It makes sure parents and children keep that end goal in mind. Seems to me a lot of human parents these days need a hit on the head to remind them of the end goal, which is self-sufficient adult offspring.

So this week I'll be sharing a Larry picture book with my students each day, while I give my brain a little iceberg floating time. We started with Bongo Larry today, and practiced cool beatnik finger-snapping. Tomorrow we'll learn about blueberry muffins. Maybe on Friday we can have them for a special literary Larry snack!

© 2008 Nancy L. Ruder

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