Sunday, April 7, 2013

A Happy Discovery....by accident!

Ser*en*dip*i*ty - n. faculty of making happy discoveries by accident. ser*en*dip'i*tous adj. ser*en*dip'tous*ly adv.
(The Oxford American Desk Dictionary and Thesaurus - Second Edition-Berkley second edition/July 2001)
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There was a mall in the Skylake area, just several blocks and a 20-minute drive from my house during the mid 1980s to the mid 1990s.

As a little girl, my parents would frequent this mall for various reasons, as it wasn't our closest mall, (the 163rd Mall gets that distinction) and particularly the go-to store where my mom bought her sewing tools, kits, thread and needles. I think it also sold yarn.

Whether it was next door, or a section of the sewing shop, my eight year-old self flipped through a table rack of books, and it is here I discovered a gem.

by Stephen Cosgrove/Illus. by Robin James - Goodreads(c)
Serendipity(c)
A thin paperback with a unicorn foal and a tantalizing title. When it came time for us to leave, I asked mom if she would buy it for me, and she did.

The book was read by the time she drove us home. The story was short, had the most luscious illustrations ever, new words to learn, and a bittersweet ending. 
I remembered getting teary-eyed. I re-read it numerous times after until the staples became loose and the spine a little beaten.
Hungry for what I thought was a one-time deal, I placed the book in a respected spot so I could always access it. Imagine my delight and surprise that the two-legged, magenta dragon that was the adorable logo meant it was a series?

Serendipity(c)
Hungry for more, and disappointed that I could not find others, except for "Poppyseed" - circumstances and not returning to the store, nor able to remember the name, - I learned what 'Serendipity' meant, but couldn't remember that this was the actual series' name... Eventually, I forgot about the delightful books, until I rediscovered them in 5th grade. 
Cosgrove/James(c) 


Even in the Catholic school I attended for a short period, we had a library in the class and there were a variety of books: from Black Beauty to Oliver Twist, some French children's books, and a handful of Serendipity's books! I read "Trapper", "Leo the Lop", title book "Serendipity", and others that memory fails to recall. 

I made it a point to collect the series (I'm in my late 30s, and haven't scratched the surface), but life and other books got in the way... And then I re-rediscovered the series again online.

Cosgrove/James(c)
Serendipity(r) is just like its name: wonderful tales with strong moral messages, reminding me of a longer-length Aesopic fable.

And the art! Ah, the illustrations done mostly by the incredible Robin James are so lush, and so fixated! You fall in love with the large, doe-like eyes of the characters: both real and mythical.

The reader can probably count every blade of grass in the fields, count every flowers' petal, see the tendons in the horses, the equine characters are drawn quite lovingly realistic, and at the same time, whimsical - many of the animals in the Serendipity(r) series are drawn more anatomically correct than many other children's books to the point I believe these books inspired me to draw animals better. 

I've recently re-re-rediscovered these books! 
Serendipity(r) helped to formulate the childhood for many of us during the 80s. I'm honored that I was one of those original fans and am excited to read the newer titles, especially now that early readers came together and begged for more stories.

Serendipity(r) has now come under a new imprint/publisher and online shopping/reviewing has made the books easier to locate and purchase!

A happy discovery indeed....

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P.S. Goodreads.com and many other online retailers such as BarnesandNoble.com, Abebooks.com, Alibris, Half.com, etc. sell the Serendipity(r) Books - both early and new editions - Give them a try, and do us older fans a favor.. Introduce these wonderful tales and characters to a new generation.

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