Happy New Year, everyone. I thought I’d start it off with a post by Lisa Doucet, a behind-the-scenes powerhouse in Canadian Children’s Lit. She is the co-manager of Woozles, the kids bookstore in Halifax, a respected tastemaker, and a tireless champion of books for young people. My dream is to visit her at Woozles one day.
Here is Lisa writing movingly about a thing she loves and about children’s literature. Thank you, Lisa! For all you do.
P.S. (Such a gorgeous dress! I like it almost as much as I love Mo Williams and Margaret Wise Brown.)
This Old Thing That I Love
by Lisa Doucet
I love pretty dresses! And I have many, each one lovingly chosen for a very particular reason, or special for the memories it evokes, or for the story of how it came to be in my possession. So it is very hard to choose just one to write about. But the more I thought about it, the more I was sure that it had to be this one. I’m not entirely sure why this one is, and always has been, one of my very favourites but it is. I love how very silky it is, so light and flowy; I love the asymmetrical hemline; and most especially, I love the bright, beautiful shade of orange with its subtle print. Those are the things that I love about it that you can see. Then, there are the things that I love about it that only I know: how it reminds me of my mom, even though she never saw this dress. But, for some unfathomable reason, she loved to boast about how good I looked in orange. I don’t think she particularly liked the colour orange herself, but she loved to see me in it, and I’ve always wished she had seen this dress, I know she would have loved it. So it makes me think of her. And because I pretty much always wear it with a necklace that my father gave me, it also makes me think of him. And how much he disliked that necklace! He trusted my friend Melissa to help him choose jewelry for me because he knew how much I love jewelry and he wanted to give me presents that would be special and meaningful to me. But when Melissa showed him that one, he did not like it one bit. She finally convinced him that I had been eyeing it with great longing for many months so he caved and got it for me. But even when I exclaimed joyfully that I loved it he was unwavering in his low opinion of it. To this day, it is one of the necklaces I wear most often, and almost always with this dress. So it makes me think of him too.
And, because I love this dress so much (how it looks, how it feels and how it makes me feel when I wear it), I often wear it on special days. So it also reminds me of many of my happiest memories. Like one of my favourite Woozles memories. It was a day in August when a customer, who has become more like family to me, came in to the store, with her entire family in tow: her three adult children and their spouses and all ten grandchildren. The grandchildren ranged in age from 4 to 18 and I have helped her select every book she has ever given to each of them since most of them were born. They live in Boston and New York and Israel, and I don’t often get to see them, and never all together. But this one day, they all descended upon the store en masse, every one of them. It looked like they had come home, as they spread out in the store, and I got to spend time with each one of them. And we laughed and talked about books and it was one of those glorious moments when I wished that everyone in the world could be a bookseller for a little while so that they could know what this felt like. And they took pictures of all of us together, and I was so glad that I was wearing my beautiful orange dress because it felt like one of the very most special of occasions.
And then there was the day last summer when I wore this dress in New York City. We were bound for an exhibition on Mo Willems on the Upper West Side on a day that was just made for my special dress. And after the exhibition, as we roamed around, we decided to stop and have a look around the gardens at St. John the Divine. And there were peacocks! Just strolling around the gardens. Alas that I was not wearing one of my many peacock dresses, but at least I was wearing this dress that I love, which somehow seemed right for a day that was blessed with real, live peacocks! In 2014, I also wore this dress on the night that I visited the New York Public Library to take in an exhibition called “The ABC of It: Why Children’s Books Matter.” It was an exhibition that spoke to me in many ways, and made me think, and that made me feel prouder than ever that I do what I do. And once again, it seemed entirely perfect that I was wearing this very dress (which incidentally was exactly the perfect dress for the Goodnight Moon display).
So that is sort of a partial summary of why I love this dress, of what it means to me and the feelings and memories that it evokes.