Words in books.
September 4, 2014 9:54 AM   Subscribe

I want to give a great kid a couple of books. Not sure what to write in them.

I have a friend, we'll call her Rose, who is about to turn 11. Rose was the first Girl Scout to join my troop, back when I had precisely one girl in my troop and no idea what I was doing. She has since aged out of my troop but she's pretty special to me and only lives a block over so I see her a bunch.

I'm taking her out to lunch this weekend, super casual just at a little cafe a few blocks from where we live. I got copies of two books I really loved when I was about her age, The Westing Game and A Wrinkle in Time. They both have pretty solid solved-all-the-problems girl protagonists so I think they're both probably appropriate here. (The kid is 11, I have no expectation that she's going to like these books or even read them, so please don't get hung up on that.) I've read The Westing Game within the last 5 years but it's been a very, very long time since A Wrinkle in Time and also I am bad at sentimentality and need help. I got a lot of book gifts from teachers and such as a kid, and it always made me feel really special when they took the time to write special notes just for me in them. I'd like to give Rose that special thing, too.

Can you please help me craft like a one or two sentence thing to put in the front of each book? I can figure out the specific-to-Rose tailoring, I am just brainfarted here even trying to start.

Things about the Westing Game that I remember:
solving puzzles, being determined...I don't know, mostly this book is just a lot of fun

Things about A Wrinkle in Time that I remember:
looking for the good even when things are bleak, not always following the status quo, sci fi for kids


Some background: Rose lost her dad pretty tragically two years ago and her mom had her when she was quite young (which is very much normal in the neighborhood) and has now gone back to school full time. Her mom is very overprotective of her. Rose herself is very sweet, kind of shy but still gets kid-silly when she thinks no one's watching, and is more of an artistic observer type than a dive right in type. She's told me that she likes reading but only has "baby books" at home. I get the sense that she's going through some pretty typical tween girl self esteem/confidence stuff right now. I'd like to kind of be a non-parental adult person to Rose (which her mom is totally on board with) and so have reached out to do some one-on-one things.
posted by phunniemee to Grab Bag (11 answers total)
Do you need a great inscription? Why not something simple and no pressure liken "This book is a present for you. I hope you enjoy it."

I would try to avoid talking about how much you like the book - too much pressure.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 10:11 AM on September 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

The best thing is to be recognized as an individual. Could you maybe write something about Rose that you have observed to be true? Maybe not just that she's "smart", but that she's "smart enough to have done X" or "good at helping her friends X" -- I hope you can do better than my terrible examples.

That you're doing this is huge, though.
posted by amtho at 10:12 AM on September 4, 2014 [3 favorites]

Two of the best books ever. Important sidebar: Did you know Ellen Raskin, the author of The Westing Game, also created the original cover art for A Wrinkle In Time?

How about: "This is a book I've read again and again. I hope some day we can go out for coffee and talk about what it means to you."
posted by roger ackroyd at 10:16 AM on September 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

What you wrote is not bad.
"Rose, this is a book I really enjoyed when I was about your age. It has some good puzzles and is just a lot of fun."
"Rose: You are special to me. Remember to look for the good even when things are bleak and not to always follow the status quo."
posted by steinwald at 10:31 AM on September 4, 2014 [3 favorites]

"Rose: When I was your age, this book meant a lot to me [for reasons x, y]. I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I did. [Sincere words specific to her situation], phunniemee."
posted by magdalemon at 10:32 AM on September 4, 2014

In addition to the suggestions above, I think it would also be lovely to include quotes from the authors.

P.S. You are an awesome person and should feel awesome.
posted by lalex at 10:39 AM on September 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

I haven't read A Wrinkle in Time since I was little and I'm not familiar with the other one, but if there is some way you could incorporate something from the book that would be awesome.

For example, a beloved babysitter gave me The Phantom Tollbooth. Inside she inscribed "For Amy, who has plenty of time." I don't know why but I just loved that.
posted by radioamy at 11:12 AM on September 4, 2014

To my own favorite female protagonist.
posted by Mchelly at 2:26 PM on September 4, 2014 [3 favorites]

"There are many, many wonderful books in the world; here are two of them I hope you'll enjoy as much as I did."
posted by aryma at 4:50 PM on September 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

My mother just inscribed a journal with this on the first page.

Pooh: What day is it?"
It's today," squeaked Piglet.
My favorite day," said Pooh.”

― A.A. Milne
posted by Jewel98 at 9:51 PM on September 5, 2014

YOU GUYS. She was so excited! I gave her the books at the end of brunch (found out she had never had "brunch" before so we officially brunched just in case anyone is keeping track of these things) and she flipped out. "Are these chapter books?! Are these girl writers!?" I made sure she knew that it was just for fun, that if she doesn't finish them it's not a big deal, this isn't school, and she said "no, I'm going to love them and they're going to be my favorite books and I'll give them to my grandkids and they'll be their favorite books, too!" So that was super duper cute.

I ended up using a mash of what you guys suggested and I think I ended up with something light and sweet for each book. Thanks for your help, everyone!
posted by phunniemee at 12:14 PM on September 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

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