I was thinking about some of my favourite reference questions that I was asked this past year working in an elementary school, and how I answered them.
- “Do you have any books on soccadores?”
I had never heard of soccadores, so I had to ask the student to explain what they were to me. He said that he had just made it up. And yes, he really did think I might have a real book in the library about something he had just invented that moment.
I had to say no, of course, so then he asked me about pompadours. I was able to tell him that they were real, but I didn’t have any hairstyle books in an elementary school library. I then offered to look for books on Madame de Pompadour, the French historical figure, since we did have history books. (Thank you Doctor Who. Who says it’s not educational?)
- “Do you have the toilet books?”
Apparently she actually said Twilight, but I think I was right the first time. But no, the library didn’t own them, so I showed her the YA fiction section.
- “BUZZZ! I’m a bee, can I sting you?”
No, you may not. You may also not arrest me when you’re a police officer, slide around when you’re a penguin, stand in the corner between two bookcases yelling loudly that it’s an elevator taking you up and down, or fly like a bird by jumping off the tables. (He was adorable and imaginative but exhausting.)
- “Is that your real hair colour?”
This grade 5 girl had read something that said that all blondes were secretly aliens. She wanted to make sure that my hair wasn’t really blonde under the red. I told her no, but my mother is blonde, so maybe I’m a half-alien. No, I have no idea what she was reading that told her blondes are aliens, but she seemed quite concerned, and she wasn’t totally convinced that I was kidding about being half-alien.
- “Do you have any books on King Richard?”
Some of the boys had heard somewhere about the discovery of King Richard III’s body being found, but they thought it was a fictional story. They were amazed when I told them that he was a real person and that his body really had been found under a parking lot in England. A group of them gathered around the only book I had that mentioned him the way they usually gathered around car and Guinness record books to share. I tried offering the Shakespeare play as the only other thing I had, but alas poor Yorrick, it wasn’t as well received. Still, it was pretty cool seeing how excited they got over Middle Ages history.
- The classic “Why are boys so annoying?”
A grade 4 girl asked me this one as she was returning her books. Since I hadn’t seen who annoyed her or why, I had to tell her that it was one of the mysteries of the universe. If anyone has a better answer, could you please let me know? I’ve never figured it out, myself.