Ivan Bilibin, a favorite fairy tale illustrator, not to mention costume and set designer.

Ivan Bilibin (i876-1922), a favorite fairy tale illustrator, not to mention a beloved costume and set designer.

Like any retired librarian worth her weight in overdue notices, Simplia never left the library without an overflowing book bag. You know, one of those canvas ones from Scholastic or Follett or Baker and Taylor? Sagacia too, though her modest bag collection from National Public Radio could not compare to her friend’s.

“These things ought to come with wheels,” Simplia said struggling with the weight of the volumes. “Though I guess that’s a lot to ask of a free gift.”

“And you’d still have to maneuver the steps,” Sagacia said as they reached the stairs to the parking garage. “Glad we parked close, though. We probably outdid ourselves today.”

Simplia lifted the trunk and the Simpletons hoisted their bags inside.

“I’ll get one out to read while you drive,” Sagacia said, digging through her bag. “Post Wheeler! My favorite translator of Russian tales, and this one has the Ivan Bilibin illustrations.”

“Which I can’t look at while I’m driving,” Simplia complained, “But, never mind.”

The satisfied pair of readers slipped into their seats and Simplia started the engine. As her friend steered onto Mulberry Street, Sagacia began flipping through the book back to front for a peek at the marvelous artwork. One image—the one where Vasilisa in her embroidered sarafan sees the white horseman—was covered by a sheet from a yellow legal pad, which she pulled out of the way, and, flipping it over, saw . . .

. . . the letter. Of course. It was the magical third day of the month, after all! Or close. It had probably arrived last night, after hours, when the library was closed.

“Of course!” she chuckled, then read aloud.

Dear Vasilisa the Wise,

I am so excited that this year’s Summer Reading Club theme is “Every Hero Has a Story.” What a treat for us lovers of Fairy Tales; an open invitation to tell our most favorite stories!

As I began to list out mine, I started thinking about the qualities of heroes and heroines that makes me love and admire them, the qualities that they inspire me to work harder to develop within myself. I started wondering what others thought about that, too. I mean, it’s not the dragon-slaying that makes a hero, it’s the heart to take on the dragon in the first place. It’s not defying the king/father that makes a princess a heroine, it’s the belief in something beyond her present life or the faith in her prince and the power of their love.

It occurred to me that some of your readers (or “magical friends,” as the Simpletons call them—and I won’t deny that they are magical!) have thoughts about what makes a hero a hero, and I wonder if they’d be willing to share them? I know it would help me and maybe others make make our summer story sessions magical and meaningful. Oh, and who are their favorite heroes? I’d like to know that, too.

Thanks, Dearest Heroine! Oh, and don’t say anything to Baba Yaga about the hands!

—Devoted in Dallas

At just that moment, Simplia noticed they were approaching the intersection with Lobby Lane. She flipped her turn signal.

“We may as well drop Devoted in Dallas’s letter by the Fairy Tale Lobby right now, just in case some of our magical friends are there,” she said. ”I’m sure many of them are getting ready for Summer Reading Clubs right this very minute!”