In the Blood

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My parents read to me when I was young, my house had filled bookshelves, my family read a lot, my aunt’s a librarian… I was always surrounded by books, even in elementary school.

Because my bus got to school before the start of class, I had to go to what was essentially a study hall. Usually a teacher would sit at the head of the class, grade papers and tell us to hush. But every once in a while, we’d get the teacher* who was writing a book. She had a co-writer and they were working on a book for, wouldn’t you know it, kids our age. After they’d polish a chapter, this awesome teacher would read it to us! She wanted to see our reactions…see if we liked it. The story was interesting, and it was a behind-the-scenes glimpse at how books came together. You know how much I love those (peek-a-boo 1, peek-a-boo 2), so as you can imagine, I was in heaven.

What I remember more than the thrill of hearing a book being built (well, really, edited) chapter-by-chapter, was that I got to hear the real ending. My teacher-writing duo had written an ending that the editors had thought was too scary, so the authors changed it. The teacher read us both versions and we all agreed that the original was better. It wasn’t scary. It was, however, more satisfying because it was show not tell.

Despite the ending, I bought the book when it came out in Scholastics. I was so excited to have own a book written by people I knew. That was 20 years ago and it’s still in print: Vampires Don’t Wear Polka Dots!

I know I’ve got my version around here somewhere…

*I want to say that both authors worked at my school, but I can’t remember which one read to us. My 5th grade memory is a bit fuzzy.

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