26 December 2012

And the Givers Shall Receive...

Over the summer, my wife's sister moved back to Florida, meaning that my niece and nephew aren't nearby anymore. My nephew is 17 now and while we've always been close, he's at an age of independence now where he's building his own life with friends and girls and even if he was here now, he'd be preoccupied with that world instead of me. Hey, I was once 17 myself. I get it. It's cool.

Back in 2004, I tried getting my nephew into comics by giving him some Christmas-themed issues of Justice League Adventures and Teen Titans Go! - comics based on the Justice League and Teen Titans animated series that he enjoyed. I underestimated his resistance to reading, though. He refused to even open them, even to just scan the artwork. I still have them.

My niece, however, just turned 10 this July and she's enjoyed having me wrapped around her little finger her whole life. I've enjoyed being wrapped around her little finger, too, so it works well for the pair of us. I thought about it some and decided that the perfect book for her would be Jeff Smith's wonderful Bone. I own a copy of the first collected edition, Out from Boneville, and I found a copy for her. My hope was that she would read it, I could re-read it concurrently, and then we could talk about it some. I explained this to her tonight, and then something truly special happened.

My niece decided that we should read it together in the strictest sense. Right then and there, over the phone, we sat down with our respective copies and traded off reading. We decided to read the first three chapters tonight, and to save the last three for tomorrow. Our entire conversation lasted about 80 minutes, but that included chatting about Christmas and other things. We probably spent about 45 or 50 minutes at most actually reading.

We discussed it when we finished the third chapter. Her favorite character so far is Fone Bone. She says the rat creatures are more stupid than scary. When I asked what she thinks will happen next, she surmised that Fone and Phoney will reunite with Smiley, but she didn't speculate whether they would actually get back to Boneville. I found that interesting for some reason, that she would be so conservative about making predictions.

When I told her that there were nine books in the series, she immediately replied that she needed to get the rest because she already loved it. I'll have to keep an eye out for them. I enjoyed reading them the first time through a few years ago, but this shared reading experience tonight was something truly special for me.

Sometimes I write blog posts for you, Dear Reader. Sometimes, I write them for me. This one, I wrote for my niece so that years from now she'll have my account of this episode. I hope when she comes back to this years from now that it makes her smile and warms her heart as it has done mine.