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WORDSWORTH AT ALA!
At the yearly gathering of booklovers held in Chicago’s McCormick Place convention center June 22 – 27, Wordsworth the Better World Bookmobile is...
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St. Vinnie's Books
Clean Earth Books
Hey were two little Japanese dolls, only about five inches high. Their faces and hands were made of white plaster, their bodies of rag, which meant they could bow most beautifully -- and Japanese people bow a great deal. Their eyes were slits of black glass and they had delicate plaster noses and red-painted mouths. Their hair was real, black and straight and cut in a fringe. They were exactly alike except that Miss Flower was a little taller and thinner, while Miss Happiness's cheeks were fatter and her red mouth was painted in a smile.
They wore thin cotton kimonos -- a kimono is like a dressing-gown with wide-cut sleeves-and they each had a wide sash high up under their arms which was folded over into a heavy pad at the back.
Miss Happiness had a red kimono patterned with chrysanthemums, Miss Flower's was blue with a pattern of cherry blossom; both their sashes were pink and on their feet they had painted white socks and painted sandals with a V-shaped strap across the toes.
They were not new: Miss Flower had a chip out of one ear, her pretty kimono was torn and the paint had come off one of Miss Happiness's shoes. I do not know where they had been all their lives, but when this story begins they had been wrapped in cotton wool and tissue paper, packed in a wooden box and tied with red and white string, wrapped again in brown paper, labelled and stamped and sent all the way from San Francisco in America to England. I do not think they had been asked if they wanted to come-dolls are not asked.
"Where are we now?" asked Miss Flower. "Is it another country?"
"I think it is," said Miss Happiness.
"It's strange and cold. I can feel it through the box," said MissFlower, and she cried, "No one will understand us or know what we want. Oh, no one will ever understand us again "
But Miss Happiness was more hopeful and more brave. "I think they will," she said.
"How will they?"
"Because there will be some little girl who is clever and kind."
"Will there be?" asked Miss Flower longingly.
"Why will there be?"
"Because there always has been," said Miss Happiness.
All the same Miss Flower gave a doll shiver, which means she felt as if she shivered though it could not be seen. Miss Flower was always frightened; perhaps the child who made the chip in her ear had been rough. "I wish we had not come," said Miss Flower.
Miss Happiness sighed and said, "We were not asked."
Children are not asked either. No one had asked Nona Fell if she wanted to be sent from India to live with her uncle and aunt in England. Everyone had told her she would like it, but "I don't like it at all," said Nona.
"Nona is a good name for her," said her youngest cousin, Belinda. "All she does is to say No, no, no, all the time."
With her dark hair and eyes, her thinness, and her skin that was pale and yellow from living so long in the heat, Nona looked a stranger among her pink-cheeked, fair-haired cousins. There were three of them: Anne, who was fourteen, slim and tall; Tom, who was eleven, with freckles; and Belinda, who was a rough tough little girl of seven.
Nona was eight. Her mother had died when she was a baby and she had been brought up by an old Ayah -- an Ayah is an Indian nurse -- on her father's tea garden, Coimbatore in Southern India. It had been hot in Coimbatore, the sun had shone almost every day; there had been bright flowers andfruit, kind brown people and lots of animals. Here it was winter and Nona was always cold. Her cousins laughed at her clothes; it was no wonder, for they had been chosen by old Ayah who had no idea what English children wore in England, and Nona had a stiff red velvet dress, white socks, black strap shoes and silver bangles. They laughed at the way she spoke English, which was no wonder either, for she talked in a sing-song voice like Ayah.
She did not like the food; living in a hot country does not make one hungry and she had not seen porridge, or puddings, or sausages, or buns before, and "No thank you," said Nona. She said "No thank you- too when anyone asked her to go out for she had never seen so many buses and cars, vans and bicycles; they went so fast it made her dizzy. She said "No thank you" when her cousins asked her to play; there had been no other English boys and girls in Coimbatore and she had never ridden a bicycle, or roller-skated, or played ping-pong, or rounders, or hide-and-seek, or even card games like Snap or Beggar-my-neighbour. All she did was to sit and read in a corner or stand by the window and shiver. "And cry," said Belinda. "Cry, baby, cry."
"Belinda, be kind," said Nona's aunt, who was Belinda's mother. Nona called her Mother too. "Be kind. We must all help her to settle down."
All through Christmas Nona was unhappy and when Christmas was over it was no better. She stood by the window and ran her bangles up and down her wrist, up and down and round and round. They were thin and of Indian silver; she had had them since she was almost a baby and to feel them made her seem closer toCoimbatore.
"Come to the park, Nona. We're going to skate."
"No thank you."
"I'm going to the shops, Nona. Come along."
"Have some of this nice hot toast."
"No thank you."
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