A BIRD ON WATER STREET takes place in Copperhill, Tennessee (called "Coppertown" in the book), in Polk County. So it's been especially important to me to share the story with the kids of Polk County - many who are too young to know about the history in their own back yard. Friday, I had the chance to do just that...
Stan and I awoke early and drove through the Ocoee River Gorge (you may remember the recent story of the rock slide that shut down this major thoroughfare along the Olympic White-Water venue for months - it is a beautiful, but dangerous road). I was to talk to 5th graders in Benton, Tennessee at their brand-new, shiny West Polk County library. This is a big deal for this extremely rural area. Even better, Tennessee Overhill Heritage Association and the Tennessee Arts Commission provided a grant for all the 5th graders to have their very own copy of A BIRD ON WATER STREET. How amazing is that!?
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I could tell as they got off the bus, this was going to be a great group of kids...
Jenny Rogers, a Friend of the Library and massive volunteer who helped make the library possible, was my hostess and gave me such a warm welcome. The center display was set-up with their brand-new library copies of ABOWS:
The kids sat in their new media room - I was the first author to ever give a presentation at the new library. With any luck, I will have been the first of many. A display showed my slide-show and I read from ABOWS. It was so fun to have the kids follow along in their books:
And I signed every single copy:
The kids were so excited about the book and interested in all the various topics it dips into, it was an absolute joy to be there with them. In fact, afterwards, they checked out the new library and some of us talked... about their favorite books, themes, writing, you name it. I love talking to this age group. They are so wide-open to everything and inspired. I really do think I've found my sweet-spot - or at the very least, my sweetest audience. Gads, I wanted to take every single one of them home with me!
My profuse gratitude goes out to: Jenny; Jill Swafford, the Principal of South Polk Elementary; Tennessee Overhill; the Tennessee Arts Commission; and all the volunteers who helped make this happen. What a profound honor this was for me!