I’ll Trade you an Elk by Charles A. Goodrum

IMG_3881If you’ve ever been in a situation involving long-term stress (and let’s be honest, who hasn’t), you may have learned the necessity and blessing of a good book.  Such a book should be captivating enough to hold your interest but not such a page-turner that you can’t put it down to get adequate sleep at night.

Such a book is like a close friend:

-comfortable enough that you can fall asleep with it in your lap

-pleasant enough to spend a lot of time with

-interesting enough that you want to check in and see what’s new

-jovial enough to make you smile after a long and stressful day

-confident enough of your interest in its life that it doesn’t force you to come over every day

-considerate enough to let you get your rest and put your must’s first

-faithful enough to be there whenever you have time

I found such a companion at a used book sale at the local library right before our move to China. Through the 13-hour flight (plus 3 more hours sitting on the tarmac before take-off due to technical difficulties while every child on the plane decided to throw a fit), jet lag, and initial culture shock, I’ll Trade you an Elk was a comforting presence. After a fitless nap on the plane or a day of fighting the crowds in Beijing, I could return “home” to my familiar friend for some light conversation and gentle humor.

I’ll Trade you an Elk is the true story of the Wichita zoo during the Great Depression, told from the point of view of the zoo manager’s son. The story is charming, the problems, though highly unusual, strangely relate-able, and the characters as regular and realistic as your neighbors. You feel empathy for their struggles, but not so strongly that you break down crying in the airport (an extremely awkward sight – take it from one who knows).

As a whole, I’ll Trade you an Elk leaves a pleasant taste in your mouth, which is more than I can say for airline food. Next time you’re in for a stressful month at work or transition in life, check out this heartwarming read for your own relaxation, not to mention sanity.

Total number of pages: 192, FoA pages: 16,827 (The total number of pages reported upon by the Friends of Atticus)

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