Dear Mary Pope Osbourne,
Against the background of black, bleak October night sky and kitschy orange Halloween lights hung up on the outsides of run-down old brick apartment buildings, stride now with an air of determination and purpose towards the brightly-lit, multi-wing Downtown City Library. know that once get n, behind those intimidating sliding glass doors, will wind my way past the adult romance, science fiction, and mystery sections, past the audiobooks and DVDs, and end up in the brightly-colored children’s section where a few curly-haired toddlers will still be looking through Clifford books - but not many young ones, not at this hour. My path will take me beyond the children’s nonfiction and picture books and lead me right up to the bottom shelf of a grey metal bookcase, a bookcase that isn’t extraordinary for most people, but is for me because that’s where your Magic Treehouse Books are. And I know that as wonderingly finger the yellowed pages of the oldest ones and deeply inhale the new-book-smell of the most recent, I will never cease to appreciate all that your books have done for me - even back when could barely yet read.
When I was in First grade, my school like was tough. I constantly struggled with my grades, and I was insecure and shy. I was the kid who would sit alone at recess and try to hide in the back comers of class during free reading time. This all only got worse when the Accelerated Reading program (wherein students must read books that are on "their" level or area of comprehension) started for my class. My level was two down from all my friends, and while I could tag along with them in the public library when they would check out fairy books and June B. Jones, would eventually have to shamefully slip back to what Mrs. Drey, the librarian, called the “Everybody Books” section, and get 5-page, 3-words-per-page books that basically just said, “This s the cat. The cat goes meow.” As if I didn’t know what sound a cat made. But then one day Mrs. Drey wheeled an old, battered, off-white, slightly dirty, book-laden cart into the library. It contained the Magic Treehouse Books. They were in my level. I could read them. And they were significantly more interesting than monologues concerning animal noses.
As you can probably imagine, I was ecstatic. I checked the first four out in one go. I curled up on a huge flower-embroidered couch at my home after school each day and read those books, consuming them as fast as I could so I could check out more at the very next possibly. I had a safe place now, a world I could run to escape the insecurities and fears I had in the real world. In this safe world I was a brave and fearless magician. I ran with Jack in the time of the dinosaurs and battled fierce knights with Anne in the Dark Ages. After reading Night of the New Magicians, tried to use my great magical powers to enchant my bike and make it fly - which didn’t work out too well, as you can probably guess. But my love for your books isn't just because I could escape with them as a child. No. It's more. What your books did for me was open the door to my path, my future, my destiny. You see, your books planted in me a love of reading. A BIG love of reading. I went from dreading library time to bouncing on the tips of my toes just with eagerness to get to it. I read more and more and MORE, and slowly worked my way up the ranks so was reading 4th grade level books in 1st grade.
And inevitably, reading led to writing. When first started writing, it was a bunch of chopped-up, grammatically butchered sentences that seemed to be thrown together quite haphazardly. But over the years I have developed it into a craft, a fine art. It is the very lifeblood that throws through my veins, that I can pound out with passion on my old ratty laptop keyboard (even though the “n” key is really wacky and will randomly type n's when I’m not even touching the keyboard. It's still worth it). Writing is my life, my love, my drive, and you gave that priceless gift to me. Thank you.
So now as stride back out of the City Library into the chilled air, my red coat whipping around behind me in a sharp wind that has suddenly picked up, and precariously balancing six or seven of your books in a delicate stack in my arms, I know that times may change, I may change, and my life may take a completely different course, but I will always, always, hold your books very close to my heart. Thank you.