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Signed Books

April 19, 2013
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When I was a kid, Suzanne Newton was the author in residence at my school. On her last day with us, I got up the nerve to ask her to autograph my well-loved copy of M.V. Sexton Speaking. I already treasured the book, but to have it signed by the author was another thing entirely. It was a vivid connection with the magical person who wrote the words inside, the person who had breathed life into the characters that were so real to me. The author had held my book in her hands, and that meant something to me.

I love books. I want all children to love books and have the unique joy of finding refuge or adventure or hilarity or solace or hope in the imagined world of a book. I want them to revel in owning their own books and to see themselves as members of the club called Readers. And I want these children, who do not have many or any books of their own before we bring them to our giving store, to be as excited about the books they take home in their bags as I am about the books I love. I cheer when I put one of my favorites into a hand because I know what is in store for this reader.

So imagine my joy when author Kimberly Newton Fusco contacted me and offered to donate signed copies of her newest book, Beholding Bee. I love her book. In fact, I haven’t been able to put it on the shelf yet because I’m not ready to put it away. It is a luminous work. The protagonist, Bee, is original, authentic, and inspiring. An orphan with a large birthmark on her face, Bee lives in the back of a truck in a traveling show. She triumphs over huge obstacles, and her kindness, wisdom, strength, and resilience make her a true heroine. I was already looking forward to being able to introduce children to this remarkable book, but I was reduced to tears of gratitude at the chance to give kids copies signed by the author.

You see, the children we work with prize books, too. They just don’t have books to call their own. When they learn that they get to pick and keep a big stack of books, they grin, they cheer, they jump up and down, and sometimes they burst into tears. I simply cannot wait to put Beholding Bee in a child’s hand and say these magic words, “The person who wrote this book, she signed it for YOU.”

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