Life as I know It

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San Luis Obispo, California, and South Bristol, Maine, United States
Author ~ Illustrator ~ Lecturer

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Book Giver

Dear friends,

I wrote this posting two and a half weeks ago, but life has been so hectic that it has sat and simmered on my computer till tonight. So sorry, but I know you understand. I did receive some notes from friends who worry that I will stop blog postings since I am active with Facebook. Yes, I do post one photo and a few words each day on Facebook, but many of my readers/friends don't want or know how to use Facebook, and they don't want me to stop regular postings. So, I promise to continue, though somewhat erratically. I love keeping in touch with you. So if you keep writing to me, I promise to keep writing to you too.

A note from a friend

Aline and her grandson Timmy made me feel rich when they sent me the photo above and the words, "He loves this book." Hurrah! Writers (most of them) seldom know if their book is pleasing someone, so words like this can be the biggest spirit lifter of all. Then add on the photo, and wowie, home run. So there are my riches in the flesh! Thank you, Aline, you are so sweet to share this.

Inspiration beyond the ken

I was so fortunate to spend this morning with retired librarian Liz Krieger (see contact info at post script below). She may be retired from the regular 9 to 5 at the library, but she is a librarian at heart and continues to educate and inspire hundreds of children a year.

Liz and her husband Dan attend book sales, tag sales, library sales, and anywhere books are sold, and purchase the best children's books by the car load. She doesn't purchase them to sell; she buys them to GIVE them to the children of Hawthorne School.

Kids arrive at Liz's house with empty shopping bags, and before Liz serves lunch, the kids are allowed to "shop" from tabletops, bookcases, carts, and entire rooms filled with books. 

You won't find any duds here. Liz considers the needs and aspirations of each child and hand picks everything.

Liz's dining room is given over to the books she selects for the children. I found about ten that I wanted, but heck, this day is for the kids.

I'll take the blue easy chair for further reading and lounging. Soon this room filled with excited and eager fifth and sixth graders and their tired, looking-forward-to-end-of-school teachers.

Well, we haven't had any rain here for ages, but wouldn't you just love to be let loose in this house? I would. And then I want to curl up in one of the overstuffed chairs (or, like the three bears, choose a bed) and read, read, read till my eyes cross and I have to come up for air and food.

She told them which bookcases held the books they especially liked.

Watch and learn. I watched Liz weave her love-of-books-spell with the children. I learned from the master. I could not believe how Liz could pick up a book, virtually ANY book, and tell the children the stories and her favorite parts. I wonder if she ever sleeps?

 Oops, did I forget to comb my hair? I think so. Well, it is ok, I got it cut a couple of hours later.

But look at these stacks...she has the names of different children on each book. She researches what their interests are and matches the book to the child. Amazing, no? Then, before she hands them to the child, she tells the entire group what the books are about and why she chose that particular book for that special child. 

I know that Liz sometimes works through the night before her group arrives, and you can see the results. She spins tales about the lives of authors; she gets the kids excited about every aspect of the book. It is amazing to see the wonder and joy in the faces of the children, especially when Liz says, "Take your bag and choose the books you love, but try to choose one or two from your favorite category." (I just finished reading Richard Peck's A Year Down Yonder and his Long Way From Chicago, pictured above). Richard Peck's books resonate even with children my age! Hilarious.

Liz with John (an enthusiastic volunteer) in the background. John read some snippets of a book he loves.

Liz reads from The Wind in the Willows.

I am sharing some of the process of creating My First Bird Book

My part in all of this magic was to talk to the children about following (and working for) their dreams and goals. I explained that when I was young I didn't do well in school, but I kept drawing, writing, and dreaming. 

One young boy told me that he really loves to do illustrations, but that he doesn't think he is good enough. I told him to just keep working and to develop his own style. I asked who was judging him. He admitted that he judged himself and compared what he created with art work of others. "Quit comparing yourself. There will always be someone better and someone worse than you," I said.

I think the kids were interested in My First Bird Book and Bird Feeder because (by a long stretch) it helped them feel connected to R.J. Palaccio who wrote the great, middle grade novel, WONDER. Raquel was the art director at Workman Publishing who did the layouts and devised the packaging etc. for my bird book. She is not only a writer, but also a visual artist. I was so happy to have her creative input with the book, and she informed me that her boys love it! Hurrah.

I explained about the different kinds of books I've written and how exciting each one is. More like exploring and discovering treasures that you never knew existed. The above book is The Little Green Island with a Little Red House (DownEast Publishing), which is just going back to print again. I am showing them the tide pool page, which is a reflective mirror so that children see themselves in it. 

My first book, Sunflower Houses, originally published in 1991. Still in print! I'm so grateful.

And, finally, Liz asked me to read a few paragraphs of my new book Running Out of Night, Random House, November, 2014. I did and afterward got some great comments from the kids. Thank you everyone! We'll make sure that you get to read the entire book come November.

Interactions with the children is fun. Here are some typical questions from the students

"Are you rich, teacher?" one of the kids asked me. "No," I said. "Not the way you may be thinking of rich."

"What way?" he asked.

"I have lots of wonderful people in my life, and my books make them happy. They're like family to me, and they make me feel rich in something besides money." 

Another question? How old are you? When I answer them, they are shocked that I am still able to stand and talk (let alone write and draw). 

Is Lovejoy REALLY your last name, or did you make it up? That is a question I am always asked, and they are reluctant to believe that I was actually born with that name. I explain that not only was it tough to be a redhead, but to have the name Lovejoy really sealed my fate. I was teased constantly.

Pizza Time

The scent of freshly baked pizzas wafted through the book rooms. Stomachs growled; kids sniffed at the aromas and begin to get antsy.

Liz gave some final words of encouragement and guidance to the children. She said, "Don't just read these books and toss them aside or give them to a thrift store. Read them over and over. Begin to build your own library." Think of that..."Begin to build your own library." That is a great way to encourage children to re-read books, to care for them for the long haul, to cherish them as they should be cherished.

My granddaughter Sara May made me a bookmark. I think her words say it all, "I love books." (And did you notice her choices of books? That was before she read the entire series of Harry Potter; now they would be listed too. Probably right at the top of her list.

Thanks to my Grandmother Lovejoy, thanks to my favorite librarians, thanks to some of my beloved teachers and professors, and thanks to people like Liz Krieger, I love books too!

Normally I would do a book give-away this month, but instead I ask YOU to give a book or two to Liz. She and her husband are retired and spend much of their time and their money on books for children. Do you have any good books for children that need a new home? Write to me and I'll introduce you to Liz. She needs any help that can be offered. Thanks!

Workman Publishing just sent me a reprint notice today. This is the 11th printing of Roots, which is amazing to me. I am so grateful to all of you who keep this book alive and thriving.

I send love to you across the miles,


p.s. Liz gave me permission to publish her contact information for anyone who would like to send her books.

Liz and Dan Krieger
662 Islay St.
San Luis Obispo, CA. 93401

805-543-9611 home. 
805-440-1113 Liz's cell


From the Kitchen said...

It is so nice to hear from you today, Sharon. I'm going
to share this post with our library and with my librarian friend from a neighboring library. What fortunate children.

I shall look for you on Facebook.


From the Kitchen said...

It is so nice to hear from you today, Sharon. I'm going
to share this post with our library and with my librarian friend from a neighboring library. What fortunate children.

I shall look for you on Facebook.


Vee said...

What a remarkable gal Liz is. She is doing amazing things and I am not surprised that she ignites a love of reading AND a love of library in children. Congrats on your books' successes, too!

Julie Marie said...

Dear Cousin Sharon... this post is just amazing... first off, I love the photo of the little boy enjoying "My First Bird Book"... kids are never too young to learn about Nature!... and your friend Liz is an angel!... I would LOVE to round up some wonderful children's books from our little local used book store, "The Book Garden" and send them to her... please email me... I have never heard of anyone doing anything like this and it actually brought tears to my eyes... as a painfully shy little girl myself, my best friends were books (still are!)... and I have all of my own childhood favorites I have saved... at Christmas time, or my birthday, I always asked for a book... you look so pretty there talking with the children... I am sure they were fascinated by you!... I can hardly wait for your new book to come out in November!... but, I do not want to wish the Summer away... it is almost "Hollyhock Days" here and I savor those, along with your book of the same name... sending much love to you... will pick out some wonderful books to send to Liz... xoxo Julie Marie

Anonymous said...

such an inspirational post, beautiful photos,

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

In case my first comment was lost --blogger told me there was an error---What a wonderful woman Liz os, Sharon! I also watched the video you posted on facebook of her. Her love to the children and proving them books really shines through. She is giving them such a wonderful gift of the love of reading --a gift that will enrich them their entire lives! It was so nice that you also gave your time to speak to the children and encourage them. Hugs to both you and Liz!

Rustic Pumpkin said...

I am so happy to have found you today, both here and on FB! What a wonderful blog, and I'm looking forward to reading much more.
Waving from Across The Pond Deb in Wales!

Pom Pom said...

What a great heart she has! I love it!
I need your bird book. Going off to find it now!

Vicki Boster said...

When you give the gift of a book to a child it is as though you are opening the gate to this vast and diverse world. Regardless of the age-- reading stirs their imagination and helps to mold them into the person they will be.

Your friend is so wonderfully generous (as are you-- xoxoxo) -- I wonder that you both are not weighted down by all the stars in your crowns. I'd love to send her a few books- please send me her address--


Pat said...

Was easily drawn to your post from the beginning...the young man with the red hair reminds me of our own son when little. Liz sounds like a amazing woman - the children are blessed to have someone like her and also shows with their attention as both of you share your love of books.

Years ago I stitched a dolly quilt and pillow for my Mom's doll collection. On the pillow were the words...
"Richer than I you will never be...I had a Mother who read to me". And the love of books continues...

Nellie said...

Aren't children just the very best! There is nothing I like better than hearing their comments and questions!

The best thing we can do for children is to introduce them to the world of books!

It is such a pleasure to read this posting from you, Sharon! I've thought of you often!

Sending hugs and good summer wishes!


Pondside said...

What a sweet idea, Sharon. When I get my books out of storage I will contact you regarding making a gift of a couple of them. So much is in storage as we try to sell our house.

Unknown said...

Sharon, you and Jeff could sell anything! Dan and are are so aware of the many generous hearted people who want children to have sustainable hope and wonder and knowledge through the joy of reading. Our book parties are definitely a community effort! And your delightful presentations and willingness to answer questions about yourself and the writing process and your exciting novel on the Underground Railroad electrified the imaginations and interest in reading at two of our book parties. Blessings, dear Sharon and Jeff.
Xxx Liz Krieger

Susan said...

Your life sounds like mine and I find getting to the computer to keep in touch has gone by the wayside! Your granddaughter's bookmark is perfect and here's another little thing I wrote down..."the best things in life are things!" I think I'm going to stencil that one in the children's play area in the new house, Happy Summer, dear friend, XOXO

kj said...

hello sharon!

this post has left me hopeful and happy. the whole thing is so wonderful. liz is no doubt very special and very wise. i wanted to be there too: to choose my own books.

when i was young (i have no idea what age, but little!) i devoured anne of green gables and two books that first made me cry from reading: nobody's boy and its companion, nobody's girl.

i love how you live your life, ms. sharon, my friend.


Anonymous said...

Well, I just love this blog entry! I don't know, really, how I came across it, but I am glad I did! ( Are you in FOSB by any chance?)Anyway, I'm a retired English teacher, and I love to see children's interest being sparked by good books. Susan

Autismland Penny said...

What a fantastic service she is doing for those children! They will forever remember how loved and special they felt when she gave them books! Please contact me and I can send her books we are no longer using!

jerilanders said...

"Is Lovejoy your real name or did you just make it up?" I love that! Just like a kid. Yes, I have many duplicate books in my own story book collection and would be happy to donate to Liz's endeavors. I am always cheering for those who promote reading. I will send her 3 of my own books as well. Just lead me in the right direction.

Dee Nash said...

Oh Sharon, this post made me cry. The thought that someone is willing to go to all that effort for children and the love of books is astounding. I was reading it to Megan my oldest, and she looked up and saw the picture of you with Sunflower Houses, your first book. She yelled out "Sunflower Houses!" It's because she is my baby who had a sunflower house and still talks about it. When she becomes a mother one day, I'll buy that book for her. Love and hugs, Dee

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Liz gave me permission to post her contact information for anyone who would like to send her books.

Liz and Dan Krieger
662 Islay St.
San Luis Obispo, CA. 93401

805-543-9611 home.
805-440-1113 Liz's cell

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Dear Jeri,

Yes, Lovejoy is my real name and I didn't make it up. I was born with it, but believe me, I did not like it when I was a kid.

A redhead. With freckles. Named Lovejoy. Butt of every joke through school. When they called roll every head turned my way. Not good.


One Woman's Journey - a journal being written from Woodhaven - her cottage in the woods. said...

I read this and smile.
How wonderful they are doing this.
As a child I read constantly
from the library and gifts at Christmas the books were devoured in several days :)