DRACUT -- The idea was pursued by 10-year-old Maddie Gath because of her love of reading and a desire to share that passion with others.
So it was built: Maddie's Little Free Library -- a cleverly designed box full of books for kids, from Jeff Kinney's "Diary of a Wimpy Kid," to the more adult-oriented Stephen King classic "Pet Sematary," for example.
Take a book or leave a book, the miniature book-sharing station placed alongside the road offered books for all.
However, Maddie's acts of kindness and community awareness were swiftly dashed by what appears to be an act of selfishness. Her little library was stolen, along with the books, from Long Pond Drive on Friday afternoon.
Maddie got the idea for the little library -- which are dotting communities across the country -- while visiting her aunt's home in California.
The book station was built while Maddie and her family lived at 81 Gilmore St. in Dracut, where the library was originally located.
"My husband (Bill) built it to look just like our garage," said Jennifer Gath, Maddie's mother.
T-shirts advertising Maddie's creation were made, along with a Facebook page, with roughly 170 members, to keep an update of new submissions.
But when the Gath's moved to another part of town, they had to find a new home for the book-sharing station. Jennifer points out the new home on Mammoth Road had too much traffic, preventing a safe spot for the book station.
Enter fellow Dracut residents, Vallery Miller and 9-year-old daughter Kelsie, who offered to take the little library to their home on Long Pond Drive.
Kelsie was excited at the opportunity to take over where Maddie left off.
"People have been using it in the past week when they've been out for walks," Vallery said. "They've been stopping and taking a few books, or dropping off a couple here and there."
Kelsie was in the midst of planting a garden around the little library, placed three feet away from the road, under a tree in their front yard. According to her mother, the 9-year-old had plans to set up a lemonade stand and a seating area nearby.
Those plans were dashed when returning home Friday afternoon. After picking the children up from school, Vallery noticed Maddie's Free Little Library had vanished.
A frantic search and a few drives through the neighborhood ensued. The library was gone without a trace.
Kelsie was devastated, and, of course, Maddie who had plans to visit her library creation, was heartbroken.
A neighbor has told Vallery that she witnessed a black car (unsure on the model) stop and steal the library, but the leads are slim.
The distraught mother said she had put off calling the Dracut police. With the days passing without a sign of the book station's return, she decided to finally make that call Monday.
Despite pursuing a report with police, Vallery said she is still willing to accept the little library back without involving law enforcement any further.
Her message for the thief: "Just bring it back."
"You can say you thought it was free. You can be lying to me, I don't even care," Vallery said. "I just want it back."
Follow Aaron Curtis on Twitter @aselahcurtis