The Garden of Abdul Gasazi by Chris Van Allsburg

I start my memoir with a book which, in the early 1980s, my son Dylan and I purchased from its author and illustrator, our hero, the fabulous Chris Van Allsburg himself. We were living in Healdsburg, California, and, being long-time Chris Van Allsburg fans, we’d been excited to learn that the Caldecott-award-winning author/illustrator soon could be found at the Alpha-Bit, a small children’s bookstore in nearby Santa Rose, signing his latest book.

Expecting lines out the door of the tiny store, we arrived early, only to find no one there but the book store owner, the author and ourselves. How could this be? Where was everyone? With plenty of time to indulge his thus far lone Santa Rosa fans, Chris Van Allsburg signed our purchased copy of The Garden of Abdul Gasazi with an original drawing:

About forty years later I offered to send this precious book—possibly now worth hundreds despite a torn jacket—to its rightful owner, but, having no children, my son suggested I just copy and email him the inscription. I could sell the book if I wished. Recently, however, he changed his mind and asked me to give it to his good friend and New Hampshire business partner, Jason Lemieux, who did have children. So today, the last Priority Mail day before Christmas, off it goes to the best home we could think of.

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