By nature not an overreactor, but fearing for the lead-free life of my children, their children, and children in near and far locales, including Eastville in southwestern North Dakota, decided to part with my five thousand or so collectible children’s book collection. The value of the collection, the vast majority first editions, some rare, some unique, with fifty pieces of original artwork – paintings, sketches, watercolors – pales in comparison to the risk of a child, in some distant future, ingesting any of the works as lunch. Lamenting the absence of even a single certificate attesting to the lead-free status of one of the books, I curse the publishing houses of year’s past with their backward looking ways. Couldn’t they have foreseen the rise of China and spontaneous outbreak of lead dastardly embedded in our children’s products? It would have been so obvious fifty years ago, clear as forecasting tomorrow’s stock market.
I was perplexed for days thinking of a surefire method to rid the earth of this unwanted horde. The objective was zero risk of a first edition Cat In The Hat ever becoming a baby’s teething blanket, since the collection might be disbursed upon my death or dismemberment. Or sale, god forbid. My aroused conscious led to months of sleepless nights anticipating the ban on selling of children’s books on eBay, Amazon, and the like. So proactively ridding myself of the demon host of books will release the inner anxieties worrying about the infallible Pope-like decisions from the intelligent and very clued-in managers of aforementioned entities, who are certain to follow the letter of the law. No, the method of destruction must be total, not just minimizing the risk of one of my first editions becoming some child’s breakfast, but iron-clad zero tolerance, similar to how effectively corporate policy prevents the viewing of pornography on one’s work computer.
Securing space on a rocket ship is no small endeavor. For one, the charges are in large part calculated by weight. Five thousand children’s books weigh more than a mouse, but less than a house. The relative neighborhood is four tons, somewhere north of eight thousand pounds, so mucho dineros to lift the load into the heavens. Second, most of the dad-blasted rocket blasting services send the payload up and orbit the earth, not exit earth’s orbit. For goodness sake, what good is that? Having my collection orbiting the earth for perpetuity was far too risky. Why, what if space travel becomes common place in a couple of hundred years? Easily, some 7-year old could start munching on a Maurice Sendak first edition while reading a Tomi Ungerer. Had to be iron-clad, zero tolerance, rid the earth. Costs be damned.
Eventually I scheduled and commissioned an earth-orbit exiting rocketship to take this non-certificated potentially lead-laden payload of death into the bowels of the Sun. Good ol’ Sol never let anyone down, been burning for millions of years. Hot too, to the tune of twenty-seven million degrees Fahrenheit. That will roast a wiener or two, and burn like hell the condemned. No trial was necessary, the books a victim of their certifiableless past.
No regrets while watching the rocket leave the launch pad then into the high atmosphere of the sky before disappearing from sight. Only relief that justice had indeed been served, children saved, my soul redeemed. And much thankfulness for the Solomon-like wisdom written into the Public Law 110-314, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008.
For more on how ‘CPSIA of 2008’ impacts bookselling, please see Bookshop Blog.