The Perfect Book — Halloween for Henry, Day 5

by | Oct 6, 2015 | Short Stories, Stories for Kids |

It was Monday morning, and Henry had been through a rough weekend. Even so, he was hopeful that October 5 would turn out better than the rest of his favorite month had been, and the reason was simple — he was surrounded by books.

On Friday, after Mrs. Foster had ruined his plans to dress up as Penniwise the clown for the the class Halloween party and he ended up drawing “member of a boy band” as his costume, Henry was not sure he would ever forgive his fifth-grade teacher.

But instead of having the class pull out their English books after they said the Pledge of Allegiance and turned in their milk money, Mrs. Foster told them to line up at the door. They were going to the library.

Most of his friends groaned at the idea of spending the morning finding books to read AND write reports about, but Henry was thrilled. He was a good student and was bored with the usual lessons of reading a short story, spelling some easy words, or identifying parts of speech.

Nothing better than a good book to break out of his doldrums.

The only problem he had now was that he had to choose just ONE book.

Truth be told, Henry had already read most of the good books in the school library. Though he didn’t mind re-reading the same book, he hoped that he could find something new and enticing so that he could really get into it and give a great presentation in a couple of weeks.

Because not only did Mrs. Foster want the students to read their reports in front of the class, she said they could also dress up like one of the characters from their book if they wanted.

And Henry wanted, even though he wasn’t sure yet which book and which character he would choose.

He walked through the chapter books that were grouped together and remembered the fun he had had reading about The Bad News Bears and the wonder of How to Tame Your Pet Dragon. Neither of those thrilled him for this assignment, though, and neither did the story about a lost grizzly cub or the tale of a grandfather-turned-astronaut.

Next, Henry turned his attention to the nonfiction section and thumbed through biographies of Abe Lincoln, Gil Hodges, Elvis Presley, and even Napoleon. Those were all great stories, but they didn’t excite Henry, either. He had read them all before, and somehow they all lacked the spirit of the season.

By that time, many of his classmates had already picked their books, checked them out, and were getting restless to return to class.

“Quiet down, children,” Mrs. Foster instructed. “We can’t go back until everyone has chosen a book.”  Turning toward Henry, she continued, “Dorian? Do you need help choosing a book?” Then to a mousy girl in the back of the library: “How about you, Cynthia? Do you need help?”

Looking self-conscious, Cynthia grabbed a book from the shelf in front of her and held it up for the teacher to see. “No, Mrs. Foster, I’m finished.”

Mrs. Foster nodded and looked to Henry once more. “OK, Dorian, it’s down to you. What’s it going to be?”

“I’m almost finished, Mrs. Foster,” Henry lied. He still had no idea which book he wanted to read.

“Well, hurry up, dear. We’re all waiting for you.”

Some of Henry’s classmates mocked his first name, as they usually did when Mrs. Foster called it aloud, and some just stared at him in exasperation. Henry decided that he’d better just make a choice and get in line in order to keep peace in the class.

He didn’t want to do it, but he would have to settle for one of the Goosebumps books that he had read a thousand times over. At least they were scary and fit with his Halloween frame of mind.

He walked back to the fiction stacks, where Mrs. Lovell, then librarian , was shelving paperbacks. She knew Henry was an avid reader, and the two of them often talked about books and authors when Henry came into the library.

As Henry approached, Mrs. Lovell gave him a knowing smile. She had been listening to the book-selection drama unfold.

She winked at him and then reached behind a stack of books that she had piled on top of a low bookcase. When her hand reappeared, it held a glistening paperback that looked as if it had never even been opened.

“Hot off the presses, Henry! I held this one especially for you, and I think it has your name written all over it.”

Henry’s eyes widened and his mind raced with possibilities when he saw the sinister clown staring back at him from Goosebumps Most Wanted #7: A Nightmare on Clown Street.

It was perfect! 

Words to Write By

I try to create sympathy for my characters, then turn the monsters loose.

— Stephen King

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