Once upon a time, in the days of young children in the house, I read the “Phaze“ series by Piers Anthony. This world was divided into two distinct and mutually exclusive parts. The rational and scientific was kept from the magical and fantastical by a barrier appropriate to that side. For some reason the “rational” protagonist breached this barrier. In learning to negotiate the “other side” he discovered that the people here had different aspects. At times they were human. But then they would appear as natural or even mythical creatures. This really caught my imagination. And so, when I moved from being a classroom teacher to being a school librarian, I adopted this idea.
You probably have noticed that many libraries seem to have owls in the office, logo, wall or some other visible spot. Naturally, since Athena, the Goddess of Wisdom, is often represented by one. Don’t we often say: “wise old owl”? Besides, I was a Brownie once and then became a leader: Snowy Owl; Tawny Owl and Brown Owl. And even Malak in Beavers. So for sure, there was a natural creature about me. The Snowy Owl was almost always part of my life.
How many can even imagine the days of purple mimeograph sheets? Well, in those days, I had to send out “home-made” Overdue notices. How does one make these “fun” and yet serious enough so that the child (parent) takes action? I came across a few interesting dragons: a sad-looking one (1st notice); one with a few smoke tendrils from his nostril (2nd notice); a startled and smoking dragon (3rd notice) and a full blown, fire breather for a final notice. I started using these. Donn Kushner published “The Book dragon” around this time. And now I had a title for my mythical aspect as well! The Book Dragon was a wonderful custodian of all the library treasures (in both the noun and verb sense!). He loved the different libraries we worked in. But then he became restless and needed new places to go. You do know that “dragons live for ever, but not so little….” (Puff, the magic Dragon). And so I moved on as well, feeling bereft. I lost my magical being and my need to be the guardian of the young and a custodian of accumulated wisdom and knowledge.
Not for long! Not two weeks after saying goodbye to my 40+ year career in schools, a new creature appeared, one that has patiently waited for her time and my “maturity”. This one is not about guarding and protecting but, about spreading the riches of that knowledge for the benefit of the “realm”. And so, TouTarot was born…