Tuesday, March 18, 2008

...and Sometimes You Don't Have to Ask at All

Sometimes you ask a question and you get a nice surprise. Other times you don't have to ask at all.

That's what happened three or four years ago, when I published an article in a small magazine devoted to children's books. Soon thereafter I received a package in the mail containing a beautifully-crafted miniature volume. The accompanying note was from a woman named Anna Olswanger, who said she'd enjoyed my article so much that she wanted to give me a copy of a limited edition book she had published called SHLEMIEL CROOKS. Based on a true story involving her great-grandfather, the book was exquisitely bound, with marbled endpapers, and a statement identifying this copy as number 96 out of a limited edition of 495 copies. Since that time I have received three more volumes from Ms. Olswanger, each a small work of art, and each containing a heartfelt story based on her family history or culture. I was pleased that something I'd written had affected her so much, but more than that, I was touched and honored that she would reach out to me -- completely unsolicited -- and share her family stories with a total stranger.

Needless to say, these small books have a very special place on my shelves.

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