Lillian The Bookworm’s mother was consistently inventing imaginative ways of getting her daughter to stop devouring books and get to bed. “Books are always better after a good night’s rest,” she would say, and Lillian knew there was always truth to be found in her words. Now, having to face the challenges of the world on her own and make her own choices, Lillian was free to consume as many pages as she could until as late as she liked. Which she did, right up until the day she ate through the last page of the book in Sallyanne Marshall’s bedroom. On that day, Lillian The Bookworm crawled out of the now empty book she had always called home in search of her next meal.
Inch by inch, Lillian pushed her body down the wooden bookshelf and onto the cold floor below, where she used the gaps between the tiles to guide her body under the door and into a long corridor waiting on the other side. Dedicating the next several minutes towards reaching the end of the hallway, she had just enough energy to crawl up the legs of the table in the middle of the large room where she now found herself. Half of her body remained on the table while she lifted her head to better observe the individual items in front of her. Towards the far end of the table was a book that Lillian did not recognise. It was thinner than any other book she had ever seen and black and white print of all different sizes covered the surface where there would typically be a cover. Some of the smaller print wrapped itself around a colourful picture taking up a significant portion of the top of the paper. “Illustrations are a sign that a book was made with twice the love,” she could hear her mother’s words echoing from ear to ear. With a renewed energy, Lillian navigated herself towards the book and, without a moment’s hesitation bit into it as hard as she could. An overwhelming sour taste filled her mouth, and she stopped her jaw from moving in case the paper accidentally found its way to the back of her throat. This was no book. And, therefore, whatever it was, it was not for her. Leaving a small tear in the top of the first page as the only evidence she was ever there, Lillian crawled back down the table as if carrying a heavy weight behind her.
Following the narrow gap where the floor meets the wall, Lillian continued searching for any signs of books around her. Her body made her aware of the length of time that had passed since her last decent meal as she made her way over to another book that had been carelessly left on the floor next to a chair in the living room. Glossy pictures decorated its front cover, making the colours vibrant and attractive. Lillian’s body was slipping and sliding as she scoured its contents for any evidence that this book’s pages would make a worthwhile meal, yet the smell alone was enough to convince her that this was not a book either. Her mother’s advice played on her mind. “You don’t have to enjoy every book you come across, Lillian, but you should honour its author and try it for yourself.”
Unable to perform the deceptively simple task of finding a good book worthy of being eaten, Lillian was questioning her own abilities as a bookworm when the familiar scent of a high-quality book caught her by surprise. Exhausted from locating the source of the smell, she required a short rest against its hard, thin spine before having any desire to further assess her surroundings. Beautiful illustrations that wreaked of love adorned each of the books around her and the paper inside every cover was of such a high quality that Lillian could hear the words themselves bursting with appreciation. The books made Lillian feel an odd mixture of familiarity and newness at the same time and, as she pushed the cover back of the book she was on and took her first bite of a real book in a very long time, Lillian remembered what her mother had always told her. “Don’t be afraid to revisit a book you did not like the first time, for as you get older your tastes will change and you get the joy of experiencing the story as if the first time.” Lillian chewed her way through every thoughtful word and hand-drawn picture, enjoying the satisfaction only the best quality books can bring before putting her head down and resting until the early morning.
My name is Gregg Savage and, every night when the house is quiet, I write and publish a free children’s story at dailytales.com.au for you to share and enjoy.
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