Yesterday morning, I walked down the dim school hallway well before classes were due to begin. I opened the library door, turned on the light, and set down my belongings. I set up my place at a table so I would be ready to help any students who came in early in need of academic assistance or who just wanted someone to talk to. I love this time in the morning when I can connect with students. While I waited, I perused the display of books and one caught my eye – this Way, Charlie by Caron Levis and Charles Santoso. I don’t know whether it was the bucolic scene on the cover or that Charlie is the name of my maternal grandfather, but I picked the book up and started to read. At that moment, our school librarian came in and saw what I had in my hand. “Oh, that’s a sweet one, and it’s loosely based on a true story,” she said. I love stories that are connected to real life. I feel like I get two stories for the price of one! I sat down with my cup of coffee and started to read.
There I was in a springtime field with Jack, the goat and Charlie, the horse. The farm is for animals that need to be rescued either due to ill treatment or to an injury (the real-life farm is called Wild Heart Ranch). Jack was ill-treated, which left him grumpy and mistrustful. Charlie is losing his eyesight and stumbles to find his way. Jack reluctantly begins to help Charlie find his way throughout the farm. They have some arguments, some adventures, and some mishaps – becoming in the end very good and trusting friends.
What a wonderful book with which to start the day. Perhaps, I was first drawn to it because I’m always trying to find my way: finding my way with my writing, finding my way with my art, and finding just the right way to help my students. Finding my way rings out true and clear to me. Many wonderful people in my life have shown me the way. Often ,these people have been children. They sometimes see things so simply, so clearly that they can tell me with absolutely no hesitation the right way to go. Maybe that’s because they haven’t yet become mistrustful or uncertain. Maybe their creativity is still intact, and they can imagine a world of endless possibilities. I’m trying to regain that sense of childlike wonder. Reading picture books in the early morning has shown me the way.