Monday, December 19, 2016

The Pink Motel by Carol Ryrie Brink (1959)

I refuse to throw out my very worn and torn, beloved copy of The Pink Motel.  
I don't buy books very often anymore. I'm a librarian, so I obviously use the library to check out books.  I also use my kindle app on my phone - these I usually check out from the library as well.  If I buy a book, it's usually because I think the cover or spine is beautiful; or I want something I can write in; or something similar.  I don't tend to save books I buy; they get left behind in places, or donated to the library or to the little free library across from my house.

But I have three shelves of books that all look like The Pink Motel.  The pages are yellow and falling out.  They smell very old.  There is food stains all over.  They have been dearly loved.

These books are magic to me.  They will never be thrown away.  They are my literary lucky charms.  A reminder of other days.  They are nostalgic and beautiful.  They each have their own story.

The Pink Motel has, carefully written in teacher cursive on the title page, RIF Shawn Thrasher.  I think this is quite possibly my grade school librarian, Mrs. Whitmer.  But I could be wrong.  RIF is "Reading is Fundamental" and I think I probably got this book for free, sometime between 1978-1981.  Probably not after that, and certainly not before.  

I have read thousands and thousands of books between 1978 and now.  The great majority of them, I couldn't even begin to tell you what they were about.  But those magic books, those shelves, and full of books that I know by heart.  

The Pink Motel is one of them.  I haven't read it in years and years.  It's so beat up, I was almost afraid to read it this time.  But I dove in, read it all in about one hour.  And it all came rushing back:  the hamper full of tarts and ladyfingers, the tanning parents and their bored daughter, the mystery of Hiram's secret treasure, and what it really was.  Several characters I had forgotten (Big, their neighbor boy - who I think is black although Brink never, ever says that; Mr. Carver) and others I remember vividly.  I actually shouldn't use the words "rushing back" - it is more like it all seeped in as I read it, like it was raining on me, and I have a slow leak in my brain.

Would kids today even like a book like The Pink Motel?

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I have lovingly saved my copy of The Pink Motel for around 40 years. It's falling apart. The pages are yellow. It's covered with food stains. It's in horrible condition. I don't remember the last time I read it - many, many years ago. But picking it up and reading it again, the strange characters and mysterious plot slowly seeped back into my brain. I loved this book when I was ten years old, and I can still say I love it now. The Florida setting, the weather vanes, the motel's odd customers, the hamper full of ladyfingers and jam tarts, the alligator, the gangsters, Uncle Hiram's secret treasure. An excellent little book.

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