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Sonoma Family Life Magazine

The Case of the Missing Library Book

By Cheryl Maguire

I used to consider myself an organized person who rarely lost anything, definitely never a library book. Now that I’m a mother of three kids who love books, I can no longer attest to this fact. In an attempt to reclaim some sanity, I came up with the following five-step plan to use next time a book goes missing. You, of course, could apply these principles for any lost item, but I know it’s the library book you are searching for. The library has deadlines. The library wants money. And most importantly if you don’t return the book, they will know the truth: You were unable to keep track of a 10 x 12 picture book.

Step 1. Check the Library Shelf

This may seem like wishful thinking, but on more than one occasion I returned the library book, and it was never checked in. So before you ransack your house, berating yourself with, “I could have sworn I returned that book. I must be losing my mind,” make sure it isn’t at the library.

Step 2. Last Known Location

The true crime genre has inspired the next few steps. I always start with this investigative question: “Where did you last see the library book?” Granted, the kids usually never remember, which requires you to answer the question, but it’s important to figure out since it is almost always there, somewhere, hiding.

Step 3. Use a Flashlight

Flashlights have helped me find gift cards, earrings, DS games (obviously designed by a childless person who never searched for a pin-size one), and library books. Even in a well lit room, the flashlight reflects off the item in such a way as to help you see it. And, of course, it helps you to look into the dark places of that notorious book swallower—the couch.

Step 4. Look Again

Do you remember the last time you saw an optical illusion? You tried to see the face, but couldn’t, even though it was right there in front of you. The same rule applies here: You didn’t see the book in one location, so look again. Trust me it is there (most of the time unless you skipped step 1 and the book is on the library shelf).

Step 5. Least Likely Place

You start to panic a little about having to admit to the librarian “the truth,” and then you realize—maybe you haven’t searched everywhere. Now it is time to check the least likely place. I am referring to under the mattress, inside another book, or at the bottom of the toy box (all places I have found lost library books).

Hopefully these steps will help you feel less frustrated, more in control, and find that pesky library book so the truth can remain where it belongs, concealed.

Cheryl Maguire’s writing has been published in Parents Magazine, Upworthy, Chicken Soup for the Soul: Count Your Blessings, and Twins Magazine. You can find her on Twitter @CherylMaguire05.