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Book Fair Blog

Every book has a story
Every book has a story.

Check in frequently to read the behind-the-scenes scoop on the Newberry’s popular Book Fair. The blog is maintained by “Uncle Blogsy,” otherwise known as Dan Crawford, Book Fair Manager.

Bluebirds of Happiness

Sometimes you know it’s going to be a Smurf Week, and sometimes someone else comes and tells you. (As Shakespeare wrote, “Some are born to Smurf Weeks”, and so forth.)

For the unfortuna6te soul who is only an infrequent reader of this column, a Smurf Week is a week when the donations take on a surreal quality. I named them after a week in which we received, among other things, a classic Smurf Singalong album. The Smurfs were singing when the donor told me she had something to Smurfen the week. She then handed me Damien.

Damien is a Christmas tree ornament in the shape of a caped (but bare chested) merman. (This is the male counterpart of a mermaid, for those of you who aren’t up on your fantasy reading.) He is covered with glitter, from wavy hair to wavy tail, has a bat on his belt buckle. (Perhaps this is a reference to the modern vampire, who twinkles as if covered with glitter.) All of this is interesting, of course, but what really elevates him into contention for the strangest object donated to the Book Fair is that he is cradling a Jack-o-Lantern in one arm, and carrying a bag which says “Trick or Treat.”

Yes! He is a Halloween-themed Christmas tree ornament who also happens to be a glitter-covered merman. (Maybe the glitter represents the fact that he is wet and glistening from coming out of the sea. But I don’t think so.)

Damien would have been enough by himself, but he signaled the onslaught of a host of Smurfish donations, including a Bible with three letters from Richard M. Daley tucked inside, three blank books titled “Minnesota Meditations”, and a signed copy of the Rush Presbyterian St. Luke’s Home Medical Advisor. And things were just getting started.

Someone has given us a box marked “World War II Clippings”. That’s what it is: a box of articles clipped from newspapers of the war era. There’s nothing to show whether these were clipped at the time, or years later by a researcher who got hold of a stack of old newspapers. What’s really notable about these clippings is how fresh and white they are. Newspapers, and especially World War II newspapers, go brown and brittle quickly, shedding fragments known in the trade as “corn flakes”. But these might have been clipped from a paper yesterday. (Actually, they’re better than that, modern newspapers being printed on thinner paper.)

We have a Book of Common Prayer signed by a man who styles himself “Bishop Coadjutor of Chicago”. This may not be a new term to you, but we didn’t have a lot of bishop coadjutors where I grew up. Apparently this is kind of a vice-bishop who frequently succeeds to the bishopric (as this man did) when the chief bishop steps down. It would be nice to have this man’s autograph from the years after he became just Bishop of Chicago, but Bishop Coadjutor has such a nice ring to it.

In pricing records, we have for, surprisingly, the first time, been given a small collection of albums from the Philippines. I have an album by a major Philippine comedy trio, one album by the queen of Philippine pop music, and a few anthologies featuring singers of whose existence I was completely ignorant. How this will sit among the rather large collection of Viennese operetta that came in at the same time, I don’t know, any more than I’m sure what to do with these rare albums of lectures by Frank Lloyd Wright.

And all of this was started by the arrival of Damien. I should have guessed when I saw the Trick or Treat bag.

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