Weaving my way down the bustling hallway, I spied my office door. I was getting close – finally. I carefully stepped past the busy sixth graders kneeling at their lockers, packing and repacking tired backpacks. With a few brief hellos to some of my colleagues standing, arms folded, almost wilting at their classroom doors (it was the last period of the day), I picked up the pace a little. My student was likely awaiting my arrival, and I was running a bit late. Then I heard the voice.
“Mr. Ball! Mr. Ball!” Slowing slightly, I recognized this voice. I turned my head to the right, searching through the frantic line of sixth graders desperately trying to gather the necessary belongings for the final class of the day. Hmm…who was that? Wait! Sure enough, there stood Julian. I spotted him amid his daily epic battle, a battle that raged daily between him and the evil contents of his locker. Colorful, crumpled papers strewn about his feet, it appeared his locker was winning. Again.
There stood Julian, awkwardly listing to his right in an effort to pull something from his backpack. Face scrunched in concentration, glasses sagging a bit down his nose, I could tell he was working to retrieve something from this pack. Fully aware I probably ought not be stopping- I was finally so close to my office! – I whipped a quick u-turn to circle back to Julian and his colossal skirmish.
“Hi Julian! How are you?” I greeted.
“I need a book!” he bellowed, finally pulling his hand out from his backpack. Secretly, the motion reminded me of someone who had finally, after several moments of attempting, succeeded in prying the cork off a fine bottle of wine. Pop! Out came Maximum Ride: The Angel Adventure, by James Patterson, my personal copy. I could tell right away that Julian had spent a lot time with this book. The quality of the creases, the slightly bent corners- every one of them- the wrinkled edge of a post-it, barely visible…yep, this book had definitely been read. But was it loved? I wondered.
“So you finished it?” I asked. “What’d you think?”
“I loved it! But now I need a new book. Anything you think I should read, I’ll take it.”
What did he just say? Now, this situation had just officially landed in a category I would label, ‘Unusual’. Anything you think I should read, I’ll take it? He’s really going to make it that easy? My heart leapt, because I knew this book was from a popular series. I’d recommended it for that very reason. And he had liked it. Loved it!
Ah, but then I remembered I was in a hurry. “Um, okay, Julian…I’ll get you something. But it may not be today,” I stammered. I wanted to sprint to the library at that very moment and grab that next book for Julian. I really did! But my student was waiting.
“Okay.” And he was off.
EPILOGUE: I found the next book in the Maximum Ride series the following morning. He thanked me. Here’s hoping he likes it as much as the first book.