I still remember those book club days like they happened yesterday. All eleven of us third and fourth graders would find a spot on the library floor in a circle. Pillows propped, shoes taken off, and blankets brought out as everyone settled in. Our teacher would sit “pretzel style” on the floor in our circle, seeming to be one of us. After taking out a book, the aroma of lemon poppy seed muffins wafted throughout the snug space. When everyone was settled, my teacher would ask a question to get our minds thinking. Did the tollbooth really take Milo to a land far away from his bedroom? Did we think Mr. Popper’s penguins could actually live in his house? Eagerly we all participated, calling out what we wanted to say. I looked forward to this Wednesday ritual.
In this small, high ceiling room, I met Domenica Santolina Doone. She was my age, shy, and about to experience a big change.
We had these things in common. But unlike me, she was used to change. Although she was a fictional character, we could always relate to each other. Together, we went on adventures. Dinnie took me around the United States. She brought me along when she skied in the Swiss Alps. She let me listen in on her Global Awareness classes where she learned about the poverty of the world. She taught me how to accept the things you are given in life with thanks, not anger or guilt. Domenica Santolina Doone changed my views on the world.
Dinnie changed schools and moved from the United States to Switzerland. When the time came for me to switch from private to public school in fifth grade, I was unprepared. I took her everywhere with me: school, the grocery store, dance class, riding my bike. As a child, I was always afraid of getting rid of old clothes that did not fit me anymore. I was not afraid of monsters, or ghosts, or the dark. No, I was afraid of change. When the initial shock of the school switch was over, I began to think about Dinnie. At first she was scared, like me. Little by little she made new friends, just as I was doing. We both began to see that change is not necessarily a bad thing, and that it can open up many new possibilities, or “bloomabilities,” as her friend said. Since reading Bloomability by Sharon Creech in that third grade reading group, I have reread it over thirty times. Each time I pick up that book, I think about my life from a new perspective. As I grow and mature, Dinnie seems to grow and mature with me. The meaning of the book is forever changing just as the world around me is. That scared little girl is no longer here. She transformed when she saw that the wonderful “bloomabilities” of life only result from change.
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