A Fascinating Fan
The text message surprised me. It came from a name (let’s call her Eve) I could hardly recall. But her words were intriguing. Anything that has to do with my books gets my attention.
“My only grandson, Rafa, is a fan of your children’s books. He wants to meet Grace D. Chong [how I'm called by my young readers].” Eve also reminded me we stayed in the same dorm in college.
That was a million years ago; how on earth could she remember? I thought.
We set a time and place; I try not to pass up any opportunity to meet my young readers.
Seeing Eve again brought back memories. She was with a young, handsome couple (her son and his wife) and their little boy: Rafa!
He was small, just a toddler, definitely not yet a reader.
“Three years old,” they said, and Rafa buried his face in his father’s shoulder, too shy to say anything, but wore a wide, disarming smile.
Before we could order snacks, Rafa’s dad put on the table my “Oh, Mateo!” books, all well-worn but neatly covered with plastic.
Over tea, coffee, and pastries, Rafa answered every question about the books. He knew all the stories by heart, the characters—even the minor ones—as though he had read them himself over and over again.
Rafa’s parents and Eve have been reading the stories to him since he was old enough to listen. He’s allowed to watch TV or fiddle with a Tablet only on weekends. No wonder he is growing up loving books. With a kid like Rafa, my dream of seeing a generation of readers during my lifetime may yet come true!
I wrote a short note on each of his books (I was told later that he wanted his mom to read all the messages) while he mentioned snippets of the stories.
As I was signing his books, Rafa rushed to give my arm unrestrained squeezing, then ran back to his dad quickly.
I gave him a copy of “Coming Home,” the first in a new series called “Happy Home,” which has yet to be formally launched. Immediately, he asked his mom to read it to him.
As he listened, his eyes twinkled, as though relishing every word, like a political analyst listening to a presidential SONA.
To say it was an enchanting afternoon with a tiny fascinating fan would be a lie. For an author, it was the ultimate high—like grace from the sky.
So why do I write for children?
Why do I breathe?