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Blog Tour: Joanne Rocklin Guest Post

(photo credit: Gerry Nelson)

Welcome to the next stop on the tour for The Five Lives of our Cat Zook by Joanne Rocklin! I am thrilled to be hosting Ms. Rocklin today on the blog. As I love to do, I asked Ms. Rocklin to share her memories of the library and I found I related very much to her story! I was an indoor kid who loved spending my time at the library. I was shy and always found solace in books. That's what I love so much about sharing these stories-we find true kindred spirits! I'm sure many of you can relate! :)

My childhood library was a Catholic chapel in my Montreal neighborhood.
(photo: Benny Library, Montreal Quebec)

The fact that it was a converted chapel was unimportant to me, an imaginative Jewish girl. Books lined the walls, and a librarian in a sweater-set, rather than priestly robes, presided solemnly at the front desk. But to me, it was still a church, the very first one I’d ever been inside. It had high windows and soaring rafters, a clean, real-wood smell, and pious-looking people sitting very still. In other words, the works.

The library wasn’t very far away from my home, but too far to walk to by myself. I was always “dropped off,” to be “picked up” again in a couple of hours. And I did, indeed, experience a feeling of joyous weightlessness. I remember tugging the heavy front door and kind of floating into that quiet chapel. And not to carry the metaphor too far—I was ecstatic to be there. A couple of hours of heaven in the Chapel of Books.

No other kid I knew enjoyed the library as much as I did. Everyone else was ice skating or riding bikes or playing at one thing or another, usually involving a ball. I was terrible at sports. I was shy. Nerdy, I suppose. And I was teased. I should have gotten my eyeglasses sooner than I did; perhaps that would have helped. I felt very alone much of the time.

 Except in that chapel. There, I was in a room with other fortunate people, all of us reading our hearts out, all of us discovering the secret of life. The secret of life is reading! How miraculous, to visit other worlds, to meet terrific people like plucky Anne of Green Gables, adventurous Heidi, and strong Jo, of Little Women! To absorb the words of all those kind scientists whose books explained the world to me, a girl too timid to ask questions in class.

(photo: Joanne Rocklin as a tween, aprox. 11 years old)
Eventually, I discovered other kids with plans to read every author from A to Z, kids who kept journals, who wrote stories, whose books taught them confidence. When I visit schools, I like to tell students I was shy and nerdy, and how much happiness that little library provided. I watch their faces; I know they are listening. With books, you are never alone, I say. You will always find someone just like you, or someone to help you aspire to your best self.

I often contemplate the miracle of our alphabet, which creates words, which in turn create images and ideas and feelings to connect us. When words show up on my own blank pages, I take nothing for granted.

My early experience in that tiny chapel affected me deeply all of my life, and I still enter a library with reverence, and gratitude.

Thanks so much for sharing!! Be sure to check out The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook-you don't want to miss out on this charming book!


  1. Great post! Joanne stops by my blog tomorrow.

  2. THANK YOU THANK YOU for having me on your blog and allowing me to dig deep into the memory pool! I love your blog. And thanks for the lovely review, and understanding what I was attempting.

  3. Love to read your blog, a must for bookworms to read.

  4. What a great post. I love the pictures, especially all those classic books.

  5. I learned a lot from here Thanks for sharing!
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