Ryan Trares: Booking it to the fair

Ryan Trares

A treasure trove of adventure waited behind the doors.

There were superheroes and sports stars, talking animals and pop-culture icons. Thousands of different choices were available, and Anthony could pick out whatever he wanted.

His school hosted its annual Book Fair earlier this month. All week long, the school’s common area was filled with shelves of new paperback books, journals, notebooks, posters and other trinkets such as erasers and bookmarks.

Anthony seemed interested. I, on the other hand, was very excited — book fair week was one of the highlights of my elementary school years.

The potential of picking out my own brand new book, plus maybe grabbing an eraser or a small toy if I had money left over, was too enticing to resist. My parents would usually let me bring some of my allowance to get whatever I could afford.

Walking around the display tables, I was paralyzed by the overwhelming options. Should I get a book of the top baseball stars of the time — profiles of Nolan Ryan, Ozzie Smith and Ryne Sandberg? Or was there a Hardy Boys novel I hadn’t read yet?

One year, enamored by the theatrical release of “The Last of the Mohicans” starring Daniel Day-Lewis and Wes Studi, I quickly snagged a paperback copy of James Fenimore Cooper’s novel on which the film was based. Trailers for the movie were filled with action and adventure; Cooper’s 19th-century prose was — not.

Oh, and the posters. Michael Jordan soaring over opponents with his tongue wagging. Larry Bird launching a three-pointer that, even if you couldn’t see it, you knew it went in. Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon sinking a hook shot like it was nothing.

Being that this was about the only interior design decision we elementary school kids could make, the book fair was a chance to personalize our own little living spaces. I went with a massive world map, which I hung on the wall next to my bed. Most nights, I’d look at the exotic names and unfamiliar places until I drifted off to sleep.

So when we received the flyer from Anthony’s school about his own book fair, we made plans on what to pick out. His class was scheduled to go to the fair on Thursday, but the weekend prior, the school hosted a special “sneak peak” to look around and get an idea of what was available.

Armed with some money from his mom and me, plus some extra from his grandmother, Anthony made a well-rounded group of purchases. He is on a big “Star Wars” kick, so he chose two books centered on that universe — a retelling of the Battle of Endor with the Ewoks, and a guide to all the bad guys in the Star Wars world.

He also brought home a journal for himself, and we’ve been encouraging him to jot a few notes down about his days.

Finally, there was the little stuff: an eraser and pencil that smells like pizza, and a poster of a Minecraft world for his room.

Anthony may not get the same rush of excitement I did for book fair time. But if it sparks even a little bit of enthusiasm for reading and writing in him, that’s just as good as any Michael Jordan poster to me.

Ryan Trares is a senior reporter and columnist for the Daily Journal. Send comments to [email protected].