I'm down the aisles in the kids' section of the bookstore, my arms loaded with oversized posters of book covers on foam core for the windows. From behind me comes a mother and her young girl. The mother has that "Can I ask you where" look on her face.
Actually she looks harried. More than harried. Something almost wild in her eyes. "Do you have any children's books?" she says.
The little girl - she must be five or six - is big, happy eyes all around, looking at all the books.
"Do you have any books," the mother says, "about feelings... or manners?"
I remember there's a section for books like that but I can't recall the age range. I say, "Well, let's see," and the mother jumps in over me, urgent.
"About feelings or manners, that she could read?"
I smile down at the little girl.
Her voice is quiet. "I want pony book."
Stacking my posters up against the end of an aisle, I take the two to the information desk where the mother goes through it again to the guy behind the counter, with some edge in her voice that says she's trying to keep it together and not have to scream at us.
"I need. A book. About feelings or manners. That she can read."
As the info guy takes the two off across the store, I go back to my foam core posters, wondering what the story was. I can still hear them, though they're a number of aisles away, now. Actually, it's the little girl I can hear. "I want pony book."
Her voice isn't quiet anymore.
"I want pony book." Then louder: "I want pony book!"
Over and over, pony book, pony book, and now I get it, taking up the last of my posters and heading out of the kids' room as the little girl's voice shrills down the aisles behind me. "I waaant poooooooony book!"
I think I'll put the rest of these posters up in the gardening section.