I have a clear memory of visiting my elementary school library. I remember the musty smell of used books when I walked in. I remember how everything was covered in a sticky film of juice and peanut butter.

How we all survived, I do not know.

Mostly, I remember looking on the bottom shelf where the second grade reading and first grade reading met. That’s where I found The Ox-Cart Man by Donald Hall with illustrations by Barbara Cooney. A ‘Barbara’ like me.

My five, six-year old self had never seen my name printed on a book before which is why I was initially drawn to the book, but it wasn’t the reason that I checked it out again and again.

The words and illustrations in this little picture book transported me to the north east, to a farm, to the snow and cold.

When I was in my early thirties, I still remembered this book. I didn’t remember the name or the author, but I remembered everything about the story. After some searching, I found it, and I bought it.

I read The Ox-Cart Man from time to time silently to myself. Rarely do I read it without crying, because I cannot believe I found this magical book again.

Do you have any books in your life like that? Any magical books from your school library days? If you do, tell everyone about them. We need good books now. We need good books always.

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