The other night I heard crying coming from M. Peevie's bedroom. Alarmed, I raced down the hall and pushed her door open. She was curled up on her giant beanbag chair, holding her book (Inkspell, by Cornelia Funke), sobbing into her sleeve.
"M. Peevie!" I said, "What is the matter? Did you hurt yourself?"
"No-ooo," she cried. She held up her book, marking her page with her pointer finger. "One of my favorite characters died!"
Phew. I was relieved, and also a tiny bit proud that my most ambitious reader was engaged with a book that had the power to move her that much. It justified my hard-line stance against crappy books written by Disney interns woodenly describing the plot of a kids movie, and insisting that we would only read books that were worth reading.
Later that night, when the kids were supposed to be asleep, I heard more weeping. Again I pushed open her door, and found M. Peevie in bed, reading by the hallway light and sobbing her heart out.
"M. Peevie!" I said, "What happened? Did another character die?"
"Yes!" she wailed, "And this time it was my actual favorite character, who gave up his own life so that the other character that died could come back to life! Waaaah!" She sobbed and hiccupped and sobbed some more.
"Wow," I said. "Very Jesusy. I'm sorry you're sad. Do you want to come and sleep in my bed for awhile until you feel better?"
She inhaled deeply, and exhaled. "No," she said, with a smallish hiccup. "I think I can calm myself down and stop crying."
So I gave her a little pat, and went to bed, and thought about how mysterious and wonderful she is, and how grateful I am for her, and for good books.