This morning Jane was showing me her coin collection, which contains a number of interesting specimens thanks to our world-traveling pal Keri. She has coins from Vietnam, India, Singapore, China, Korea, Japan, and a bunch of other places. We couldn’t figure out where a few of them came from, so we started Googling and figured out which ones came from Korea and which came from China.
The third coin described in this post is one of the Korean coins she was trying to figure out, with a spear of rice on one face. Another coin had writing on it that looked like Greek to Jane, so she took it to Rose for help translating the letters. Rho, iota, eta, they thought—and then a character neither of them recognized, and they brought it to me, and I looked at the other side of the coin and saw EIRE, so I knew it was from Ireland. Not Greek letters after all.
It took a bit of hunting, but we tracked that one down online too and read some interesting things about Irish coins. The one Jane has is a penny, but it seems so big compared to our U.S. pennies, almost the size of a quarter. It has a hen with chicks on it, and there’s a bit of history about some of these hen-and-chick pennies missing one of the chicks. Jane’s has all the chicks.
We saw that there are books with pictures of all the world coins in them, and Jane checked the library to see if there were any copies in our system. There are, and one was in a branch nearby. So after Wonderboy’s speech therapy session, we swung by the library and Jane got her book. Rose got the new Gail Carson Levine, and Beanie emerged from the stacks clutching an Edward Eager novel. I just finished reading Half Magic to her yesterday, or was it the day before? Oh, we had such a good time with that book. Jane was the one who hunted up Knight’s Castle for her, and Beanie nearly crushed her ribs with gratitude.
On the way out of the library, I picked up a cheap Miss Marple collection from the sale rack. In the courtyard outside, there is a mighty old tree, fat-trunked, low-branched, limbs spread wide to beckon small girls with new books. All three girls clambered up and commenced a-reading, while Rilla and Wonderboy (oh gosh, I really do need to come up with a new blog name for him: he’s getting too big for this) hunted bugs at the base of the tree. I sat on the grass, enjoying the peaceful moment. An elderly woman pushed her walker toward us and paused for a chat. “I’ve been watching you since you came out of the library,” she said. She approved of the tree-climbing and the book-reading. “I’m happy to see a mother bring her children to the library. If you read,” she told Jane, “you can do anything you want in life.” She inspected our haul and listened to the whole coin-identification story. She noticed the boy’s hearing aids and we compared notes; she just started wearing them herself. Then her cell phone rang, and she said her daughter had arrived to pick her up, and she bid each child a cordial farewell and departed. “I hope,” she called back to me, “that you have a very nice life.”
Oh, I do, I do.
Where Is Strega Nona Hiding?
Booknotes: The Mysterious Benedict Society