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ALBERT B. CASUGA, a Philippine-born writer, lives in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, where he continues to write poetry, fiction, and criticism after his retirement from teaching and serving as an elected member of his region's school board. He was nominated to the Mississauga Arts Council Literary Awards in 2007. A graduate of the Royal and Pontifical University of St. Thomas (now University of Santo Tomas, Manila. Literature and English, magna cum laude), he taught English and Literature (Criticism, Theory, and Creative Writing) at the Philippines' De La Salle University and San Beda College. He has authored books of poetry, short stories, literary theory and criticism. He has won awards for his works in Canada, the U.S.A., and the Philippines. His latest work, A Theory of Echoes and Other Poems was published February 2009 by the University of Santo Tomas Publishing House. His fiction and poetry were published by online literary journals Asia Writes and Coastal Poems recently. He was a Fellow at the 1972 Silliman University Writers Workshop, Philippines. As a journalist, he worked with the United Press International and wrote an art column for the defunct Philippines Herald.

Monday, April 28, 2014


The Perfect Book

By: Sydney Kwan

            “What a twist!” yelled Samantha as she read the book ‘Number the Stars’.

            “Keep it down up there!” called her mom who was cooking what smelled like rotting eggs. But Samantha couldn’t help it, she just loved reading! Her shelves were overflowing with books and every day she would purchase a new one. Today she wanted to buy the most perfect book ever. She ran down the stairs rapidly.

            “Are you sure you don’t want me to come with you?” said her mom who was still mixing her soup monstrosity.

            “It’s okay, I can go by myself.”

            Samantha was in front of Chapters, one of her favourite bookstores. Just as she opened the door, she saw a new store across the street with books in the windows.

“I don’t remember that being there.” said Samantha. She crossed the street and dusted off an old sign that read: “Mr. Linden’s Library. Lots of new books.” Immediately, Samantha opened the door and stopped in shock.

The library was gigantic! The shelves were neatly lined with books. Chandeliers hung from the ceiling, making it look like a ballroom. The top and bottom level of the library were filled with chairs and lamps for people to sit and read. An older man that had white hair and circular glasses greeted her at the front desk.

“Hello there! Welcome to my library! My name is Mr. Linden.” said the man cheerfully.

“I’m Samantha Sapphire. So this is your library?” she asked.

“Yes, it is. And all books can be taken out by people I know. I just met you, so pick a book!”


Mr. Linden nodded.

“Sweet!” Samantha sounded excited.

“But do know this, Miss Sapphire. Some of the books here do terrible things. If you fall asleep while reading an enchanted book, the words in the book become true.”

Samantha looked at the old geezer like he was crazy.

“O-Kay....” she slowly said and started to walk away from the desk while looking at all of the books, “This is going to take awhile.”

She searched through the fantasy book section and found nothing interesting. She glanced through the drama books. “I don’t want to cry” thought Samantha as she moved on to another shelf.

After ten minutes of browsing, she finally saw it. Over in the adventure aisle on the second floor, a book bound in leather and sparkling with gold trim caught her eye. Samantha grabbed the spine and pulled it off the shelf. The title on the cover was written beautifully in an old cursive style, “The Girl in the Woods.”

“This book is perfect!” Samantha yelled, holding the book up like a trophy.

An older woman sitting at a nearby table jerked her head up, “SSSSHHHHHH!!!”

“Sorry,” said Samantha sheepishly as she made her way to the front desk.

“This one please!” she handed the book to Mr. Linden proudly.

“Okay. Take it.” Mr. Linden smiled as he pushed the book back to her.

“You don’t need to scan it?”

“Nope.” said the old librarian in a carefree manner.

“I love this library! Thank you sir! Goodbye!” hollered Samantha as she walked out the door.

“Be careful!” warned Mr. Linden. His face had ever so slightly shifted from happy and cheerful to worried and concerned.

When Samantha arrived home, she dashed to the couch and started reading.

“What book did you get?” asked her mom who was pouring that same smelly soup from earlier in the day into a bowl.

“I got a book called The Girl in the Woods from the new library!” replied Samantha showing her mom the gorgeous cover.

“I guess you don’t want dinner if you’re too busy reading.” Mrs. Sapphire started to pour the soup back into the pot.

“Sorry mom, but I just can’t put this book down!”

A few hours later, Samantha was in her bed reading the part about how the girl ended up in the woods. She had moved from the couch to her bedroom to get more comfortable just as the story was really getting good. Even though she was excited to read on, Samantha’s eyes were getting tired and she struggled to keep them open.

“What if I do fall asleep while reading this?” she thought. Samantha pushed through the next page but her eyelids felt heavy and thick. Mr. Linden’s kind, wrinkled face appeared in her head just as she drifted off to sleep. He had warned her about the book. Now it was too late. Vines and leaves sprouted from the enchanted gold and leather tome. Branches covered the walls and grass grew on the floor. Her room looked like the woods.

Samantha woke up,  yawned, looked around and then screamed. She bolted out of bed holding the hard cover and suddenly realized she was in the woods!

“I’!!!”, shouted Samantha. She didn’t listen to Mr. Linden and now she was trapped. “The words in the book become true.” Samantha thought long and hard about what Mr. Linden had said.

“If that’s what he said, let’s see if it’s true.” thought Samantha who started flipping through the book. The page read “She saw a path of stone that led to the city of Calmo.” Just then, a pathway made of stone appeared in front of Samantha. She followed it all the way to a gigantic castle.

“Wow!” exclaimed Samantha in amazement. She kept reading, “Another girl who looked like a warrior came up to her.”

“Hi.”, said a voice. Samantha looked up at a girl. She had a high ponytail and jet black hair. She was wearing metal armour and a sheathed sword hung from her left hip.

“My name is Isabella.” The girl smiled. “Welcome to Calmo!”

“I’m Samantha. I’m not from around here. I didn’t know there was a city in the woods.”

“Only very few people can see Calmo. You are one of them.” explained Isabella.

“Oh. Well, that’s very nice but I need to get home and this book can tell me what to do to get back.”

“At least stay here for the night Sam. It’s hard to travel in the night.” Isabella started walking back to the castle.

“Wait up!” called Samantha as she caught up to Isabella. She certainly did not want to be left alone here in the middle of nowhere.

At the gates of the castle, Isabella pulled her sword out of her scabbard. In the moonlight, Samantha could make out beautiful engravings and symbols etched in the steel blade. Isabella plunged her sword between the two swinging gates like a key. After pulling the weapon out, the gates opened as if by magic. The young warrior girl smirked at Sam and started walking inside. Sam followed Isabella along a path all the way to the back of the majestic castle into a small room.

“You may sleep here for the night. I will come and get you in the morning.” Isabella told Sam as she closed the door and walked away.

The room looked eerily similar to Sam’s room back home only it was much cleaner and there were fewer books on the shelves. The bed had freshly washed sheets and when Samantha lay down, she sunk into the soft, plush mattress. As she stretched out comfortably, Sam thought “If Mr. Linden said the words in the book become true, what if I wrote my own words into the book?”

When Sam woke up in the morning, she saw Isabella standing in the door way waiting.

“Rise and shine! I’ve decided that I will take you home with the help of your book, okay Sam?” asked Isabella. Samantha thought about it.

“Okay, c’mon!” replied Sam who grabbed Isabella’s arm and headed for the gates of the castle. After they passed the gates, Samantha asked “Why do you call me Sam?”

“I call you Sam because I have a feeling we are going to be close friends for a very long time and I want to have a nickname for you.” Isabella gave her a warm smile.

They kept walking for hours and hours. Samantha got tired and sat down on a large rock. She started to read what will happen next.

“What is a lomer?” asked Sam.

“A lomer is a monster. Why do you ask?”

“I ask because my book says a lomer is coming!!!” shouted Sam in a wild panic.

Just then, a hideous creature sprung out of nowhere. Isabella drew her sword. Sam shut her eyes, covered her face with her hands and waited for something to happen. Nothing did. She opened her eyes and saw Isabella stroking the creature’s fur. Suddenly, the feeling of cold steel pressed against her neck.

“What...a...twist.” Sam whispered under her breath.

“Sorry Sam. Looks like you won’t be going home today. Or ever!” Isabella had an evil smile on her face. She pulled her sword back ready to slice when Sam felt something in her pocket. A pen! Quickly, Sam scribbled out the words in the book with the pen. Everything froze except for Sam.

“It worked!” Sam wrote in the book “This never happened.” She blinked and found herself standing in front of Chapters holding the door while looking across the street. No new store was there. Sam breathed a sigh of relief and went to find a new perfect book.


 My granddaughter, Sydney Alexis Kwan, during the recent Easter Egg Hunt. Sydney is 12, in Grade 6 at the St. Valentines Catholic Elementary School, and is the youngest child of Mr. Alvin Kwan and my daughter, April Veronica Kwan-Casuga.

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