All I Really Needed to Know I Learned in Primary
Donald P. Magnum, Brenton G. Yorgason
Press America (American Fork, Utah), 1997.
Suggested retail price: $9.95 (US)
Two things militated against my reading this book at all: first, I'mnot generally a fan of Yorgason. I find his story lines a bit timidand generally uninteresting. Second, I have an inherent dislike ofbooks that crib from other book titles. You all know that a verysuccessful secular book was published some years ago, having to dowith learning everything in kindergarten, or some such thing.
Nonetheless, the book passed my way, and I decided to give it a read.I'm glad I did.
The story revolves around Richard and Maria Allred. Having met incollege, they married and moved to New York State to raise a family.Faithful church members both, they've each fulfilled importantcallings. Maria has served as Relief Society President; Richard hasbeen called to many offices, including Bishop.
When Richard was a young child, he received from a favorite uncle aTreasure Box. Upon opening it, Ricky (as he was called as a child)was disappointed to find it empty. His uncle explained that he shouldfill it with mementos of his childhood, things that would bemeaningful later in life.
Fast forward to today. Richard is rummaging in his attic, and hecomes across the Treasure Box. He brings it downstairs, and discoversthat his children are fascinated by its contents. He uses Family HomeEvening to remove the objects, one at a time, telling how he hadgotten the object, and the lesson he'd learned.
But Maria has absented herself from these sessions. We know thatMaria came from a broken family -- her father had walked out on herand her mother when she was very young -- and Maria simply can't bearto hear about Richard's happy childhood. She begins to distanceherself from her family.
Later, Maria reconciles with her father, bringing about a sweethealing, one that unites them all into one big family.
The early chapters of the book are filled with delightful views ofRicky's childhood. We enter into the mind of an 8-year-old in such areal way, peering into the way their minds work. When Richard meetsMaria early on in Primary (a meeting they just faintly remember), herealizes at that tender young age that he's in love. His mother asks,"What's her last name?" And Ricky realizes he doesn't know. So heanswers, "She doesn't have a last name." Later, he learns Maria doeshave a last name, and wonders anew at how his mother knew so much.
Even the pet dogs make a memorable appearance:
Nosty was Buddy's enormous Labrador Retriever. Buddy didn't come up with the name, however. The story was that his older brother named the dog upon returning from college one summer. It seemed that the name 'Nosty' was short for Nostradomos, who was some kind of a prophet -- not a church prophet, as you probably know, but some other kind. Buddy's brother said that the dog wasn't exactly a prophet, but he could change someone's future. That took no further explanation, even for a fifth grader. (55-56)
The book goes along in such a lighthearted manner, I was a littledisturbed that it took such a serious turn toward the end. I thoughtYorgason might be able to revisit his delightful observations, but henever does.
I did like this book. It's a lovely read, especially for olderchildren who are ready to learn the value of cherished memories, andthe need for forgiveness and reconciliation. I have no idea why thisbook was not published by one of the regular LDS publishers.
----- Jeff Needle firstname.lastname@example.org
© 2002 Jeff Needle < email@example.com >