Waterstones had been expecting me.
No, not really. But they might have. I was right; there were far more normal customers in this shop, browsing in a normal fashion.
Even I tried to behave normal.
As I slowly shuffled down to the children’s end, I was overtaken by a mother with a boy, perhaps three or a small four?
I was terribly disappointed when they passed me going the other way, both by how brief a time they’d spent and by the book the mother was clutching. Upside down, but I could easily tell it was by DW. ‘So, not for the boy himself,’ I thought.
Except, when I shared what I’d seen with Daughter, she had witnessed the other half of what was going on. The boy clutched £5 from Granny. He didn’t want to be in a bookshop. He didn’t want a book.
Sad, but ultimately fine.
The mother wanted him to want a book. The problem is you don’t get much for a fiver. I don’t think she knew this before forcing him into the wrong shop in which to spend Granny’s gift. Basically, they ended up with DW because of the price – is he really that cheap? – and because he’s in such plentiful supply you can’t but help see those books wherever you turn. And everyone’s heard of him.
That is not a recommendation.
But whatever else you think about this unwilling spend on a book, and the type of book the boy got, there is one more wrong thing here. He’s too young for DW.
He will end up even less keen on reading, having spent his fortune on the wrong book.
Resting on a bench outside Waterstones I pondered two things. Is it ever all right to tell someone they should leave DW’s books alone (unless, perhaps, if actively chosen by the young reader)? And what should I suggest they buy instead? Especially as a fiver won’t generally cover a picture book, or one of the better chapter books with illustrations aimed at pre-schoolers.
I had hoped they were speedy and chose that book because they were getting a birthday present for a cousin or a friend. Not wasting Granny’s money on turning someone off reading.