I went to the Hope Library last fall to listen to Mr. Philip Gulley share his novel, "A Place Called Hope." There was a crowd. All seemed to greatly enjoy the book, the way he shared it, and the ease in which he fielded questions and comments. Throughout his presentation, I particularly appreciated his sense of humor.

It is one thing to capture the attention of adults wanting to attend such a session in a small area and a totally different thing to captivate the attention of third, fourth, fifth and sixth graders gathered in a gym. Well, Mr. Gulley did it again. He pulled from his book, "I Love You, Miss Huddleston." As he read from Chapter 14, My Sporadic Uprisings, you knew students were tuning in as they would laugh when appropriate.

Why not? The stories involved bug spray, a mannequin (Ginger), and tomatoes. The main characters included young Philip and his brothers, Glenn, Doug, and David. Of course, they had friends wishing to participate in their adventures. There was also Charlie Williams, the chief of police, and his trusty German Shepherd dog that was arthritic and deaf. The author has these words at the beginning of this book, "I am probably a little more exciting in the following pages than I was in real life... For the sake of fun, I've exaggerated some of my exploits."

Due to rumors of the old railroad bridge being haunted, the boys thought it might put a scare in someone driving by to see the mannequin late at night. They pushed the rope hanging Ginger from the bridge which happened to greet the chief as he was on his routine patrol. Mr. Gulley had all of us wondering how they would get out of it. Next, the audience heard about Philip's dad trading bug spray for a hundred tomato plants. We could empathize with Philip and his brothers wanting to find a way to get rid of all the tomatoes when hearing about the variety of foods their mom would fix with them, including homemade tomato ice cream.

While listening, I went back to my childhood on the farm. Bob Grider and I would roam the creek at the edge of our property with our bows and arrows. I don't really remember what we tried to hit other than we hoped our weaponry would help if a snake came our way. We saw snakes, but, of course, we never hit one! Jim Dailey and I spent most of one summer building the best of tree houses, three floors with a twenty foot deck going to a lookout tower. It was a sad day when it finally succumbed to time. Now, I watch Treehouse Masters on TV and dream of calling them to build another one. We had a Baptist minister who thought it would be neat if we could have a church go-kart club. A rough track was built in a neighbor's field, but too much time was spent keeping our low-budget machines running. I remember when the steering went out while driving mine and how my heart raced as I headed off the track into the open field.

I'm sure the many young minds, teachers, and guests were all thinking of stories too. It would be difficult to write and share as well as Philip Gulley. Then again, who knows? Just maybe, just maybe, there will be an author to rise up from the group one day. I'm sure that would please Mr. Gulley. I suspect it is one of several reasons why teachers Nancy Banta, Jenna Kramer, and Abby Calender invited him and why several organizations provided funding.

Ending with a quote from one of my other favorite authors, Shel Silverstein, "Anything can happen, child, anything can be!"