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  • January 11th, 2011 | 12:53 AM
Ripples from a book

Yesterday the ALA Youth Media awards were announced. It's a big, big day in the world of children's literature. Lives are changed by the experience of winning a major award. Careers take a flying leap forward. It seems like everyone in the industry knows the name of the winners, the names of the winning books.

Five years ago, after another ALA Youth Media awards day, I was pumped up with some excitement of my own. No, I didn't win any big award but I did learn that my middle grade novel, Hugging the Rock, was named an ALA Notable. And it got a lovely, shiny  sticker on the cover.


Let me tell you, that pretty much rocked my world.

That was when the book was in hardback. Then it came out in paperback. Then it sold to the UK. Then, well, then Tricycle was sold, the new publisher decided not to reprint the hardback version, and then, well, we got the news that Tricycle was going to be shut down for good. It was hard to remember that happy, shining moment five years ago when my book was new and people were giving it a lot of love. Hey, that's the way it is in this crazy, wonderful business.

But this past week has been filled with some other happy, shining moments with this book. I'm getting those requests from students for book report information (which is all on my website, if you just go to the "about me" page.) And some of those requests were prefaced with the student feedback that showedme they had actually read the book. One student told me that she wasn't Rachel, the main character, but that she was Sara, and her best friend's mom was just like Rachel's mom in the book. She said reading Hugging the Rock helped her understand her friend a little better. Right to my heart with that one.

Then, this week, I received an email from a gentlemen who is going to facilitate a library discussion on Hugging the Rock with a group of students. He wrote to share his story with me and asked me some questions about the book. He was doing some heavy duty research on the story before he talked to the students because he knows, this is a tough topic and not one a lot of people want to deal with. So he spent some time reading my website and then my blog and it led him to this entry where I shared a college paper written by a young woman who identified very strongly with Hugging the Rock.

And then I got it. Some books make a huge splash all at once and get a lot of attention. And that is great and wonderful. (I'm all for anything that gets kids excited about books.)

But some books make ripples instead of splashes. If you're someone who had a book come out this year and you're wishing you had a great big splash, I say, don't worry. There are still ripples to be made. Some books take time to find their audiences. Some books, like Hugging the Rock, need time for the adults to read them and then, to put them into the hands of the children who need to hear the stories.

Sure, who wouldn't want to make a big splash now and then. But hey, a ripple can go on and on and on every time someone shares a book they love with someone they know needs to hear the story.

So if you can't make a splash, make a ripple.
 
There are so many stories only you can tell.Tell them, please.



Comments

( 18 comments — Leave comment )
jeniwrites
January 11th, 2011 01:10 pm (UTC)
It's funny: I was just holding "Hugging the Rock" yesterday (it's in our downstairs bookcase, where my daughters' books are, too, so it gets touched a lot), and read the poem where the mother swerves around curves too quickly, and was reminded how much I enjoyed this book. So glad that it is standing the test of time, and that new readers are discovering it day by day.
(Deleted comment)
susanwrites
January 11th, 2011 06:22 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Laura. I am trying to find the joy and peace in many things.
jeannineatkins
January 11th, 2011 01:44 pm (UTC)
So if you can't make a splash, make a ripple: very nice motto.

and a very nice post. Splashes are few and far between in this world, but we can try to wade through (or against) the current for those ripples. xo
susanwrites
January 11th, 2011 06:24 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Jeannine. I think there's an importance in rippling, at least for me, because of their very slowness (especially when compared to a splash.) I really am trying to slow myself down and experience this year rather than just get through it. So life lessons like these, help.
jjhoutman
January 11th, 2011 01:52 pm (UTC)
I was pleased to see that a lot of the honored books were books that hadn't seen a lot of buzz. Maybe people will realize that there are a lot of great quiet books out there. But then again, they aren't quiet anymore, are they?

Thanks for the ripple pep talk.
susanwrites
January 11th, 2011 06:26 pm (UTC)
I liked that a lot of "under the radar" books got some attention as well. While many of the award winners from all the years are great books, I don't want readers to think they are the only books you should read. Sometimes the right book for a reader is a quiet book or one that a friend of a friend of a friend recommended.
double_t_t
January 11th, 2011 05:05 pm (UTC)
This is a wonderful post. I haven't read your book, but after reading Erica's paper I'm going to find a copy and read it. It sounds like a great story.

I love your last statement! I'm copying it and placing it where I can read it often. =)

Thank you! *hugs*
susanwrites
January 11th, 2011 06:28 pm (UTC)
If you read Hugging the Rock, I hope you enjoy it.

Yeah, I think "If you can't make a splash, make a ripple" might need to go up on my own office wall now. :)
double_t_t
January 12th, 2011 05:06 pm (UTC)
I will be buying your book soon, and I'm sure I will enjoy reading it.

I think that sounds like a good idea. =)
amyklv
January 11th, 2011 06:36 pm (UTC)
Susan, I think we need a bumper sticker of your motto. I am going to order HUGGING THE ROCK for our family now, and I imagine we'll be hugging the book! Thank you for this perspective. It's so true that when a reader feels "That's me!" the writer has done her work. A.
susanwrites
January 11th, 2011 10:54 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Amy! Oooh, I like the idea of a bumper sticker. I might just have to do that. I hope you enjoy the read.
tracyworld
January 11th, 2011 08:29 pm (UTC)
This is such a beautiful post, Susan. I'm so glad you have those constant reminders of the ripples your beautiful book continues to make in the great big pond of life.
susanwrites
January 11th, 2011 11:05 pm (UTC)
Thank you, Tracy. It's so easy to start feeling down about a book after it's been out a while but HTR is so much from my heart that I didn't want to stop loving it and these reminders from total strangers help me keep that love alive.
d_michiko_f
January 11th, 2011 10:02 pm (UTC)
Love this! Hooray for splashes and ripples, hooray for HUGGING THE ROCK and for you! :)
susanwrites
January 11th, 2011 10:53 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Debbi!
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susanwrites
January 11th, 2011 11:50 pm (UTC)
Our world does tend to focus a lot on splashy stuff Joyce and I am tired of beating myself up because I don't splash. I don't splash in real life either so that should be just fine.

I so appreciate your support of my book. And yes, it's very nice to have HTR weaving in and out of my life again as I work on memoir of father poems.
(Deleted comment)
susanwrites
January 12th, 2011 04:42 am (UTC)
You're quite right, of course. And I don't necessarily want to hear from everyone either...that could be overwhelming, but it's nice that these ripples came when they did for me. :)
( 18 comments — Leave comment )
WHO AM I?



Who am I?I was born on the Cancer/Leo cusp and share a birthday with Ernest Hemingway and Robin Williams. The similarities don't stop there as I can go from depressed to ecstatic without ever passing go. I feel scared most of the time though my friends call me brave and I find it easier to believe in my friends than to believe in my own abilities to make what I want out of my life.

Who am I? A wife, a mother, a daughter, and even, gulp, a grandmother.

Who am I? A writer who never gets tired of playing with words, even when the words are hard to find. A writer of books for children and articles for grown-ups and many things in-between.

Who am I? A motivational speaker, writing instructor, workshop leader and full-time follower of dreams.

Who am I? Read and find out.






Susan Taylor Brown

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