To say that my granddaughter, Rosa Eileen Barss Donham, age 7, likes stuffed animals is a bit like saying the Atlantic Ocean is a body of water. Both statements are true as far as they go, but neither captures the full grandeur of its subject matter.
Rosa has a large collection of stuffed animals, each with its own name, personality, backstory, quirks, likes, dislikes, and adventuresome exploits. Her current favourite, a white kitten called Snowflake, was a great comfort when Rosa had her tonsils out last year. Snowflake even accompanied Rosa to the operating room, and got her own hospital bracelet (although it was really more of a hospital necklace).
Earlier this month, Rosa selected Snowflake to go on a stuffed animal overnight at the Spring Garden Road branch of the Halifax Public Library. On the appointed day, she dropped the kitten off, to join the chosen animals of a dozen other Metro boys and girls.
Once their owners departed, the animals settled in for a great evening. They read books. They played with toys. Snowflake found a picture book she particularly enjoyed.
The library staff put on a delicious supper, and even gave them candy for dessert.
Eventually it was time for the animals to bed down for the night. They were still pretty wired, but the librarians were firm. Soon everyone was asleep.
Or so the librarians thought. The animals had other ideas. As soon as the staff left, they got up to play.
They went for rides on the giraffe. They even snuck out of the massive stone building, and made their way out into the city. The animals wanted to check out the new library, under construction across Spring Garden Road. They scurried across the busy street, and peered through the chain link fence.
Wow! It’s a pretty impressive building with lots of reflective glass—much more modern than the old library.
By now darkness was falling, and the animals were getting sleepy in spite of themselves. To tell the truth, it was a little scary being out in the city at night by themselves.
They decided to head back to the library and bed down for real this time.
There was only one problem. When they got to the main entrance of the old library, they found the big steel doors had swung shut behind them. They were locked out. They could not get in. The animals hollered and pounded on the door, but the staff had all gone home. There was no one to hear them. How would they get back inside?
“I know,” said Snowflake. “The book-return slot.”
One by one, the furry pets scrambled up to the slot, squeezed under the flap, and coasted down the slide. They immediately forgot their fear. This was more fun than a skateboard park.
Once inside, the animals fell onto their mats, and were soon fast asleep.
When morning came, the librarians never suspected a thing.
[Photo credit: All but the first photo in this post were taken from a slideshow library staff produced and played for the child owners of the stuffed animals when they came to pick up their charges the day after the sleepover.]