Cowdogs and Magic Treehouses

The old checking account took a bit of a hit tonight as we visited Barnes and Nobel after going to Fridays for dinner. We don’t have a ton of Christmas shopping to do, but as the book aunt, books are a part of everything we give.

As you know, earlier this week, I asked for help with some book suggestions for 6-8 year old boys. I was given some suggestions, but they didn’t feel quite right. These kids are more into dinosaurs and cowboys than fantasy at this point. And so, dressed in my fetching pink angora v-neck sweater and black felt beret sporting a pink rhinestone heart pin, jeans, and black ankle boots, I did what any self-respecting auntie would do: I accosted a total stranger.

Technically, I accosted three. I noticed a father and his young son who I thought might be nine-ish in the section for 7-to-12-year-old readers, and said, “Forgive me,” I said, “But I was wondering how old your son is.” The boy, shyly, said he was ten. “I wonder if you could do me a favor,” I asked, “I was wondering if you could tell me what you liked to read a couple years ago.” (I did all this while asking silent permission from his dad, of course, who seemed to find the whole thing amusing.

The boy went all shy on me, and said, the way kids do, “I dunno,” but his father coaxed him to remember, and suddenly they both said, “The Treehouse Books!” “They’re about Jack and Annie and a magic treehouse,” Dad elaborated. “It sends them on adventures. There’s like 40 of them. There’s no pictures, so the eight-year-old will be challenged [there are sketches], but they’re short so if someone’s reading them with them, they can finish one in a night or two.”

And so, we went to find the Treehouse books. They are a series of books by Mary Pope Osborne, and each one has a delightfully alliterative title. We bought the first five (they’re like $4 each) which cover dinosaurs, knights, mummies, pirates and ninjas.

Later, as we were looking at the Klutz activity books for stuff for our nieces who like crafty things, Dad, Son, and Other Son (age nine), approached us again. “Your nephews might like this one, too,” they said, handing me the first Hank the Cowdog book.

I thanked them, and left the section satisfied that we can round out their gift with chocolate. And yes, I’ll be sharing this story with their parents.

(Don’t forget to read my interview with Star Trek, and Buffy novelist Keith DeCandido which begins in the next post.)