Getting the books to the kids…

Yesterday, with less than 24 hours notice, I was disinvited from a Vermont school visit that had been planned since January. The reason? My book, THE SEVENTH WISH, deals with the effects of addiction on a younger sibling. I wrote about that here and have an update to share today. There’s more sad news but some happy news, too. 

This morning, when I stopped by Phoenix Books in Burlington, I learned that the school not only cancelled my visit but also returned all of the books it had ordered for the school library.

Every. Last. Copy.

So not only did those 4th and 5th graders not get the author visit they were promised. Now they won’t have access to the book at all. This is a school where some kids deal with addiction in their own families. I know from fifteen years of teaching that the right book can be a lifeline for kids in situations like that. The right book says, “It’s not your fault.”  It whispers, “You’re not alone. Be strong. It gets better.” I had so hoped The Seventh Wish would be that book for some kids. That’s why I wrote it. 

I had a wonderful time at my other school visits today, but I couldn’t stop thinking about the kids whose visit was cancelled. So I stopped by the Community Library in South Burlington, donated a copy of THE SEVENTH WISH, explained what had happened, and asked if the library might be willing to host me later this month so that families whose visit was cancelled could come. Children’s librarian Meg Paquette was wonderful. She whisked me into a back office, found a date for the event, and booked the space.

I’ll be speaking at the South Burlington Community Library on June 28th at 4pm. I know not all the kids will be able to make it, but I hope lots of them can come and hear the talk they missed today. I’ll be there with my writer’s notebooks, research notes, outlines, and messy, marked-up manuscript pages. We’ll play the word game Charlie’s family plays in the book. We’ll talk about fairy tale retellings and brainstorm some re-imaginings of Jack and the Beanstalk and Cinderella, too.

Bloomsbury is donating 20 copies of THE SEVENTH WISH to give away to readers at that event. That’s not enough to put a book into the hands of every reader who missed my author visit, but it’s a wonderful start.

Thanks to everyone who commented and offered support after reading my post yesterday. If you’d like to help get books into these kids’ hands, the Community Library has cheerfully offered to give copies away to kids at this event and beyond, as long as they last. Phoenix Books has offered to coordinate and get the books to the library. 

HOW TO DONATE A COPY OF THE SEVENTH WISH

Call Phoenix Books at 802.448.3350 to order over the phone. Let them know the book is a donation to South Burlington Community Library.

You can also order online here. Just write “South Burlington Library Donation” in the comments field when you order.

Or if you’d like to have a book sent from another bookseller, you can have it mailed directly to the library at this address:

Community Library

540 Dorset St.

South Burlington, VT 05403

Attn: Meg Paquette

Finally, thanks to everyone who has reached out over this. I’ve never found myself in the middle of a book challenge before, and it’s a sad, strange place to be. But I’m so, so grateful for the outpouring of support from writers, teachers, librarians, administrators, and readers. Thanks especially to Donna MacDonald and Sharon Hayes, the librarians who welcomed me to Orchard Elementary and C.P. Smith school with kind words and big hugs today, and to those school communities whose open minds and hearts are so very much appreciated. 

retellings

Thanks to everyone who’s been offering public words of support about this book and to everyone who sent me quiet private message about how important it is. Those notes talked about family members who are addicts. They talked about parents, brothers, sisters, cousins, college roommates, and best friends who overdosed. They talked about children lost to opioid addiction and children struggling with a family member’s addiction right now. It’s all so real, and so scary, but that’s why we need to keep talking about it.

It would be wonderful to live in a world where not talking about a thing made it vanish or took away all of its power. But we don’t live in that world. This epidemic is fueled by silence and shame. And keeping kids from stories about the effect of addiction on families only makes that stigma worse. So I’m going to keep talking and keep writing. I’m going to keep working to get books into kids’ hands, and I hope you will, too. 

~Kate

 

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20 Comments

  1. Ellen Pyle
    Posted June 8, 2016 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

    You go girl!

  2. Cindy Brewer
    Posted June 8, 2016 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

    I do mission work with children in eastern KY and so many of them are affected by this epidemic — parents, siblings, even grandparents who are users and or dealers. I can hardly wait to read the book and share it with many of them. Thanks for being strong!

  3. Kate Lynch
    Posted June 8, 2016 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    Great news, Kate!!! Love that librarian. I made my donation. Onward!!!

  4. Heather Tomlinson
    Posted June 8, 2016 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

    This story left me sad and mad. Thanks to you and librarians and booksellers for making something positive come out of ugliness. Books donated.

  5. Mona
    Posted June 8, 2016 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

    That is great news, Kate. Some people “hear” the kids. I guess that librarian does! Thanks Kate for being you.

  6. sandy foster
    Posted June 8, 2016 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

    Having received an advance copy in my school library, I read it and then recommended it to my middle school readers. All of them loved the book. You are spot on when you say it only takes one book to reach someone with the same struggles as a character.

  7. Darlene Andre
    Posted June 8, 2016 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

    I’m so glad you found a way to turn a sad situation around. You are a real hero.

  8. Posted June 8, 2016 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

    Terrible. My uncle was a heroin addict, from the time my mom was a teenager and died of an overdose on my 26th birthday. There’s nothing to be gained in shielding kids from what they already know or will eventually know. I will be donating a book!

  9. Debbie Krygeris
    Posted June 9, 2016 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    Kate,

    From experience, I know those kids missed a great presentation. You do an awesome job in your school presentations and I feel bad for the students who missed that experience. I hope many of the kids are lucky enough to get to the local library to see you present there. I think some parents and school teachers and admins feel if we expose kids through books to these issues, we are opening “Pandora’s Box”. The kids will become addicts, or alcoholics, or admit they are transgender, gay, etc. It’s so sad because you’re right – as educators, we know that so much more is happening at home than is evident from the outside. Kids are dealing with so many of these issues secretly, in isolation, and we know it through their writing, or behavior, or emotional/social issues. Not talking about it is NOT the answer. Your book is desperately needed. It will be in my classroom library this school year.

  10. M. SteinLangley
    Posted June 9, 2016 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    Hi, Kate~~~This article was sent to me from a friend in Washington, DC, both of us long~time Vermonters now elsewhere. (I`m in Boston) I was dumbfounded at all this. Not only is your book timely, needed and important, this is not the Vermont Way! Openness and the tendency to explore and share ideas is one of the most appealing factors of Vermont.
    I thank you for your efforts and hope you will enjoy the success as a writer (and a human being!) that you deserve.
    47

  11. Posted June 9, 2016 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    It’s always amazing to me that children experience the toughest life situations but some refuse to let them read about similar trials and tribulations. As always, you’ve handled the situation with grace and intelligence. Kudos.

  12. Kathy
    Posted June 9, 2016 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for work. This needs to be discussed. It is on my library list and I will share it with my friends especially those who are dealing with this tough subject in their own lives.

  13. Posted June 9, 2016 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    What a way to make lemonade lemon, Kate! Wishing The Seventh Wish into many children’s hands, especially in light of the heroin epidemic in the northeast!! Hugs to you and the librarian who made it happen!!

  14. Julie Dwyer
    Posted June 9, 2016 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    This literally breaks my heart. How can educators know all that children face and where the words of inspiration will come from? To think that this isn’t something that our children face is ludicrous. Denial never solved any problem. I have two healthy children and 5 grandchildren who I want to grow up in a world of support and knowledge. I have donated for each one of them.
    Thank you for your writing and thank you beyond measure for finding a librarian who understands that censorship never solved anything.

  15. Lauren Korsh
    Posted June 9, 2016 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    I read about your story through Pernille Ripp’s blog and it saddened me. This is the type of book that more and more students need in their hands. Sunny Side Up, a graphic novel that deals with family addiction, is a book that has flown off of my shelves all year long. I look forward to offering my students your book as another text around a similar theme. Thank you and best wishes to find communities that welcome your words with open arms!

  16. Posted June 9, 2016 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

    This is heartbreaking. After teaching eleven years in rural Kentucky, I know many, many students who deserve books like this one. Keep up the good fight!

  17. Sheila Turnage
    Posted June 10, 2016 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    Hey there, good for you for finding a way to get the book to those kids! They are lucky to have you behind them.

  18. David LaRochelle
    Posted June 10, 2016 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    Sometimes an event like this ends up drawing more attention to your book than had it never been banned in the first place. I hope that even more kids who need to see your book will be aware of it now.

3 Trackbacks

  • […] « Getting the books to the kids… […]

  • […] In case you’re new to the story, my latest novel, THE SEVENTH WISH, is about a lot of things – Irish dancing, ice fishing, magic, entomophagy, flour babies, and friendship. It’s also about the effects of opioid addiction on families, especially younger siblings. On the day my book was released this week, I was disinvited from a school visit at Chamberlin on less than 24 hours notice. The librarian and principal told me they felt they hadn’t prepared their students well enough for that visit, despite the fact that it was scheduled in January and a copy of the book was provided to them at that time. They also returned all of the copies of the book they’d purchased for the school library.You can read more about that situation in this post, and this one, about the heroic effects of the town’s public library and Phoenix Books to get books i… […]

  • […] without controversy — the week of her release, she was disinvited from a school talk, had her books sent back from the school, and she heard from a librarian at another school that she would not be putting that book in her […]

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