Emily Rose Johnston dropped off her favorite book at the library this month.
“You can travel anywhere“, the triumphant debut novel by Emily Rose Johnston. Handwritten, illustrated, stapled and tucked into the stacks of Hardwood Creek Library in Forest Lake by 9-year-old Emily Rose Johnston.
Library Services Assistant Tiffany Christian was tidying up the children’s section when she spotted what looked like a pile of abandoned papers in a corner of the juvenile graphic novels section. But when she picked it up, she saw a title page, with “I just slipped this book into the library” written in bold on the cover.
Charmed, she begins to read.
“I was just standing there, all alone in the back corner, laughing the whole time,” she said. “I was like, ‘This is lovely. We need to share this.’ ”
According to Emily’s mother, this is exactly the reaction the author was looking for.
“It was his idea to create his book and hide it for someone to find,” Shelle Johnston explained in an email. “I think the idea came from underground positivity rocks during the pandemic. She loved painting them and hiding them.”
Positivity rocks are small, colorful acts of kindness hidden in the landscape. Artists paint small rocks with bright patterns or encouraging slogans – You Rock, You Matter, Don’t Take Yourself for Granite – and leave them for strangers to find.
The Washington County Library broadcasts Emily’s message. Staff photographed the book, page by page, and posted the story on Facebook, essentially turning “You Can Travel Anywhere” into an e-book.
Part call to adventure and part pep talk for anyone trying to learn a second language, Emily’s book takes readers around the world: the pyramids of Egypt; Big Ben and the London skyline; the Colosseum in Rome and the Eiffel Tower (“eyefell”) in Paris; and in Guangzhou, China, and the bustling streets of Tokyo.
Emily, a fourth-grade student at St. Peter’s School in Forest Lake, is studying Japanese and has worked more on these illustrated Tokyo street signs.
“She’s interested in learning about different cultures. She’s particularly interested in Japan right now,” Shelle Johnston said. In addition to weekly Japanese lessons with a tutor, she said Emily is learning Ukrainian. “She wants to speak as many languages as possible.”
So when Emily tells you learning a new language is hard, please believe her. When she tells you you can do it, believe her too.
“Learning a language is difficult… do not give up“, writes Emily. “It’s overwhelming. Do not abandon.”
“She really loves creating different stories and characters,” said Shelle Johnston. “She was born an artist. I love her creativity and kindness.”
Like all great authors, Emily knows how to leave the reader wanting more.
“See my other book,” she wrote on the last page. ” ‘How to draw humans.’ “
Her story has been drawing humans to the library’s Facebook page in droves over the past week.
Likes are piling up for this one-book positivity rock — a sweet surprise that Emily Rose Johnston tucked away in the stacks to remind us that the world is full of places to go and people to meet. Do not abandon. Do not abandon.