Any time I was able to spend in Denver Elementary’s School Library was magical. It was a small room, and you had to walk down a slight decline to get into the room. If there were windows in the library, I don’t remember them. The library always felt cool, and it always smelled like old books. I remember an old “READ” poster promoting literacy. When it was book fair time, the new books would be displayed in here. The only time I didn’t enjoy it was when I was forced to put my head down on a table instead of going out to recess.
And except when the librarian decided to read us Tailypo.
Tailypo is the story of a hunter who takes the tail of a creature and eats it for his dinner. The creature comes back calling, and when he can’t get his tail back, the hunter is out of luck. It’s based on folklore, I have learned, which adds to its fear cred.
Tailypo made me nervous in a way I’ve never fully understood. Maybe the librarian really nailed the spectral voice of the stalking Tailypo. I remember her whispering and my goosebumps growing.
Maybe I was conflicted. The Tailypo creature on the cover of the book seemed like a friendly pet. Instead of friendliness, the Tailypo haunts the poor hungry farmer ,who had to eat SOMETHING. Years later, I would read an article in the City Pages about pets dining on their dead owners when left alone and unfed for too long with the bodies. Tailypo‘s the gentler version of that story. Cute things come to kill you, if you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time.