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Book Fair Offers Unforgettable Experience

Just when I think my volunteer days at school are over, the other day I decide to help at my daughter’s Scholastic book fair. I realize that nothing is more embarrassing for a seventh grader than to spot her mom in the school library, especially when the stranger wears a red sticker on her blouse that has the same last name as her daughter.

Nevertheless, I sign up to work the book fair and do my part to encourage reading and raise money for the school. Unfortunately, when I arrive for my morning shift, I notice that I’m the only volunteer there. That means I have to figure out how to use the cash register all by myself. When it comes to me and money (or is it money and I?) we don’t mix.

I assume that all I have to do for the next hour or so is stack books in neat piles, flip through pages of the latest young adult novel “Dirty Little Secrets,” and spy on kids in the cafeteria. The last thing I have on my mind is how much change to give a middle schooler who hands me a five dollar bill for an animal eraser that costs $1.06 with tax.

Lucky for me, this Scholastic cash register has a fancy built-in calculator, and everything is electronic and digital. So I can’t understand why the price doesn’t show up when I wave a chocolate calculator above the machine like a magician performing a trick.

“I think you’re supposed to hold the scanner over the item, and not move it,” instructs a 12-year-old boy with a milk mustache.

Kids today are so technologically savvy.

As the student turns his back and walks away, I’m grateful for his help and shout, “Have a good day!” I don’t blame him if he rolls his eyes at me.

I feel more confident with the next customer, but it doesn’t last for long. I struggle again to scan the book “Dead Beautiful,” only this time the eighth-grade girl with denim shorts and Ugg boots reassures me, “Take your time. I’m in no hurry to go back to class.”

Still, I start to panic and feel a little faint. With no Diet Coke in sight, I’m tempted to sniff the fruit smoothie scented highlighters, but I don’t want to set a bad example for the impressionable tweens.

Finally, the lunch bell rings, and my good deed for the day comes to an end. I go back home to write about my experience, one that I won’t soon forget. And why will I always remember the book fair? I accidentally washed my shirt with the sticky name tag still on it.

If you would like to shop the Scholastic book fair online and help your school, visit www.scholastic.com/bookfairs.