Friday, April 17, 2015

Fox Cities Book Festival - Linda Sue Park

In the years I was away from the Fox Cities, they started an annual book festival in April. This year's events kicked off a week or so early with a visit from Linda Sue Park, Newbery medal winner and author of many children's books, including "The Single Shard" and the fascinating book she was promoting, "A Long Walk To Water."

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The book is based on the true story of a boy who ran from war in Sudan, becoming one of the "lost boys." He trekked hundreds of miles to Ethiopia, where he lived in a refugee camp for 10 years before going to America. 

Now he is going back with a purpose, to bring water to South Sudan. He chose to go back to his country and live in a hut with no electricity and miles from an iffy water source to bring machinery to drill for clean, safe water. 

I always admired Linda Sue Park's ability to make other countries and cultures accessible with her books. Turns out her presentations are even better. I only wish I had $15K to buy one of these wells to bring clean water to the people of South Sudan. Although if you visit her website, she describes ways to help with The Iron Giraffe Challenge.

Like most authors, she set aside time for questions, describing how it felt to win the Newbery Medal. She explained how every book was special to her and she couldn't pick a favorite. She talked about her inspirations and her passions, like sports. 

Being a Cubs fan helped prepare her for the life of a writer, she said. Following a losing team inspires great confidence and hopefulness at the beginning of the season, only to get your heart broken every year. She compared it to getting rejections after writing a book, then poor sales after first publication, then even poorer sales after second publication. 

These days she is faring better than the Cubs, but she is putting money where her mouth is. Linda Sue Park and her husband sponsored one of those wells in South Sudan. 

I am thankful the Appleton Library arranged this visit, but wish they had arranged for book sales on site. I would have bought "A Long Walk to Water" and had it signed in this rare opportunity with a medal winning novelist. 

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