Last week's event at the library in Winchester was unreal.
I arrived to the summer reading kickoff in a limo with lunch ladies (and one lunch dude). We toasted with apple cider. There were magnetic signs on the side of the limo. We had a police escort. Kids put out a red carpet for the lunch ladies (and the one lunch dude). Each lunch lady (and the one lunch dude) was called by name and got huge rounds of applause. Kids choreographed a dance for the lunch ladies (and the one lunch dude). There was a Punk Farm band at the steps of the library! They performed the songs from the books and Blitzkreig Bop by The Ramones.
When we entered the library, a police officer read aloud from Platypus Police Squad. I gave my talk, albeit dancing around some technical setbacks, and it went very well. A good time was had by all. But it got bigger... and more important.
I signed books and bookmarks for anyone who wanted to wait in line. A family at the end put a well-loved, ragged copy of Good Night, Monkey Boy down in front of me. The dad told me that he needed to tell me a story. His girl used to have cancer when she was two years old. Same robust and beautiful, much bigger kid who stood before me. She had needed a bone marrow transplant. From my time working with this population, I knew what this meant—a perfect match and six months of isolation after the procedure. Luckily, her sister was a perfect match. But now imagine—a two-year-old in six months of isolation. Think about it. Unfathomable.
But you know what they had? They had books. They read to their little girl while they and she fought for her life. I was lucky enough that they had my book. A book that was published 15 years ago. Wrote it 17 years ago. But about 5 years ago, unbeknownst to me, this family was reading my book in their darkest hours. The dad pulled out his phone and shared with me this video of his little girl reading my book. She'd lost her hair from the chemotherapy, but held on to her spirit.
I will hold this video with me always. A humble reminder of how important our words are. Authors, you may feel down some days. But somewhere out there, there is a kid reading.
So there was a limo, a red carpet, sunglasses, a band...but there was a small moment between an author and a family that was everything.