By Vita Forest
In which Christabel solves a puzzle and resolves to rearrange her bookshelf.
Peering through her spyglass one day, Christabel watched the undertakings in The Lounge Room with great interest. The smallest human was seated on the ocean floor in front of The Book Shelf and was sorting those precious rectangular receptacles of Knowledge and Stories into piles. Christabel could not quite understand the categorisation. Whereas her own small library (residing on two precious shelves in her cabin) was arranged by subject and author, the Human seemed bent on an entirely new system. The treasured volumes by Melina Marchetta were split asunder and placed in four different piles, however the Neopolitan novels of Elena Ferrante remained side by side. What was the logic? The largest human swam about too, picking up and volume here and a volume there and examining the books with a critical eye.
It was the spine of the book, not the covers the humans were taking particularly note of. Why was that? The author and title could be gleaned just as easily from the front cover (and generally more easily too, being in larger print). Christabel watched as the human picked up Eleanor and Park, and uncoupling it from Carry On, moved it to the first pile of books.
Then all at once the puzzle was unlocked. These books were Daffodil, Sunshine, Egg Yolk and Fresh Butter. Carry On was placed with Turquoise, Deep Ocean, Midnight Sky and Glacier. The new classifier was colour!
In the distance began The Yellows (rather small but imbuing that far-away corner with a cheery glow). Then the books progressed through The Oranges and into the drama of The Reds. From there, it was a flicker into The Blues and then a lazy dappled wave over into The Greens. This was Christabel’s favourite section. She even held out her own green-gloved paws against the books to see where they would slot (third from the right Fangirl).
The Greens moved from a verdant jade through to an almost golden khaki, then onto The Browns proper. A swift muddling of Greys and then into the solidity of The Blacks (where all Elena Ferrante’s tomes firmly sat). Some books were most difficult to decide a place for. The J.K. Rowlings in the collection were from that early multi-coloured era where each spine was made up of four lozenges of colour. Which one to choose? Christabel did not envy The Human those decisions.
When it was all done, she ran her eyeglass quickly along the finished shelves and delighted in the rainbow of colours. Who cared if the books were not arranged by author? Or by height? What delight to make the books themselves a work of art, a pleasing object to look at!
And the smallest Human had made finding a treasured volume somewhat easier by writing out lists of books on colour coded paper to remind the reader that The Handmaid’s Tale had, in fact, a red spine and The Tao of Pooh, a blue.
Christabel snapped her spyglass back into itself and slotted it back into its holder. She stared down myopically at the ocean floor for a moment, deep in thought. All at once, she banged her palms lightly on the edge of the ship. It was decided – she would emulate the Human creature – she would make a rainbow in her own cabin!
And with that decision made, she rushed downstairs to do just that.