“After Francie had come in and closed the door quietly behind her – the way you were supposed to do in the library – she looked quickly at the little golden-brown pottery jug which stood at the end of the librarian’s desk. It was a season indicator. In the fall it held a few sprigs of bittersweet and at Christmas time it held holly. She knew spring was coming, even if there was snow on the ground, when she saw pussy willow in the bowl….
“Yes?” The librarian did not bother to look up.
“Could you recommend a good book for a girl?”
“She is eleven.”
Each week Francie made the same request and each week the librarian asked the same question. A name on a card meant nothing to her and since she never looked up into a child’s face, she never did get to know the little girl who took a book out every day and two on Saturday. A smile would have meant a lot to Francie and a friendly comment would have made her so happy. She loved the library and was anxious to worship the lady in charge. But the librarian had other things on her mind She hated children anyhow.
Francie trembled in anticipation as the woman reached under the desk. She saw the title as the book came up: “If I Were King” by McCarthy. Wonderful! Last week it had been “Beverly of Graustark” and the same two weeks before that. She had had the McCarthy book only twice. The librarian recommended these two books over and over again. Maybe they were the only ones she herself had read; maybe they were on a recommended list; maybe she had discovered that they were sure fire as far as eleven-year-old girls were concerned.
Francie held the books close and hurried home, resisting the temptation to sit on the first stoop she came to, to start reading.”
from “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” by Betty Smith