Learning from the Livingstones

Sam brought Adele Griffin’s Vampire Island home from his school library this week, and we’ve been reading a chapter every night. The book’s protagonists, Hudson, Maddy, and Lexie Livingstone, are hybrids: half vampire, half fruit bat. They live in Manhattan with their fruit-eating, rock-star parents.

As we all know, it’s tough to be a hybrid—the other kids just don’t get it. Nine-year-old Hudson can’t exactly tell his fellow fourth-graders that he spends the pre-dawn hours flying over Central Park, scattering fruit seeds. Maddy, eleven, has ideas about the suspected vampires across the street that even her family can’t understand. And thirteen-year-old Lexie is never sure how much of her bat-talents she can allow herself to show at school.

Sam is concerned about the Livingstone kids’ futures. “What will happen,” he asked me last night, “when they grow up and want to get married?”

For a self-proclaimed part-boy, part-girl hybrid, this is a concern.

I ventured: “Maybe they’ll find another hybrid to marry?”

“Or maybe,” Sam suggested, “they’ll just tell their husband or wife, and if that person loves them, they’ll understand.”

Kids like Sam need models of other people who are different— kids who succeed because they have people who love and accept them, kids who make a go of it in a world that doesn’t necessarily understand them. They make the connections themselves, once the adults in their lives—in this case, our school librarian—give them the tools.

When I hear Sam come up with ideas like successful hybrid marriage, I have a two-part (dare I say hybrid?) reaction. I hate to watch Sam learn things the hard way, as he so often does. But when I get a glimpse of the wisdom he is gaining as someone not-quite-like his peers, I realize that his difference is a blessing, too.

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