This is the story of me accidentally impersonating an aunt of an out-of-state 5th grade nephew whose birthday is coming up.
Me: "Excuse me, could you give me a quick rundown of all the topnotch MG you carry so I won't have to search?"
Counter associate: (to an associate he just flagged down) "She's buying a few books for a middle grade reader. Perhaps you could show her?"
Associate: (to me as we walk) "About what age?"
Me: "Oh the usual, 8 to 12-ish."
Me: (revving up to deck out my bookshelves with some tasty MG) "Yes, exactly!"
"Young man or young lady?"
Me: (pausing; I haven't considered whether my binge would be boy- or girl-angled. But then, I'd read long ago in my own middle grade years most of the girl MG books, so...)
Me: "Boy books."
Associate: "Great! Now what kind of activities does he like?"
"Your young man."
"Oh, he's not mine!"
"Uh . . . no?"
"Are you a neighbor, then? Or a teacher? Because maybe you could bring him in and we could figure out exactly what he'd be interested in. Are you with a church group?"
Me: (flabbergasted) "I don't - I'm not sure . . . Not a church group, no."
Associate: (a very patient, kindly fellow) "We do get a lot of out-of-staters. Is this, by any chance," (he winks) "a birthday present?"
Me: (defeated; there's no wiggling out of this) "Um, yes. I'm his, um, aunt, and he's out of state, so I'm not exactly sure what he's into these days. Maybe just . . . maybe we'll just take a look at a broad range of books?"
Associate: "Absolutely! Right this way, then. I'm sure we'll find something he'll gobble up."
What I bought for my fictitious nephew's birthday:
- Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
- The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
- Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
- Hoot by Carl Hiaasen
- American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
- The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
- The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer
- Redwall by Brian Jacques
- A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin