What a week! I just got back yesterday from my first ever book tour as an author/illustrator, and in some ways I’m still processing the incredible experience. It all began over a year ago now, with a message I received through my website on Aug. 25th, 2017:
Subject: Craves Book
Message: Good Afternoon,
I am the Coordinator for Baraga County Communities That Care and was turned onto your book by a local judge that uses it with small children that he sees come through the system. It's an EXCELLENT portrayal of addiction that is easy to comprehend for anyone who reads it.
Our team is looking at trying to find funding to purchase these books for a large number of students in our community.
Who would we get a hold of to talk about large scale ordering and what exactly is the program that you offer for coming to speak in person?
I'd like to have all of our ducks in a row before we bring this to the schools and see what we can do to get this launched in our community.
Please contact me and let me know.
A full year (and million emails) later, we had a schedule in place: Nov. 5th, 6th, and 7th, along with an order for almost 1500 books. The visit had grown to include Marquette, Baraga, and Ontonagon Counties, spending a full day in each, presenting to schools and libraries. My contacts in each of the 3 counties were amazing, coordinating schedules and securing funding for my visit.
My contacts in each of the counties gave generously of their time to show me around their communities, keeping me entertained, on-time, fed, and caffeinated (HUGE thanks to Mary, Mr. Jim, Carrie, and Adriana!!!) The famously harsh Upper Peninsula weather even seemed to cooperate, allowing me to visit some of the beautiful natural wonders on offer.
Heading into the schools, I was briefed on the issues and challenges that were unique to each community. Among other things, poverty and addiction were two harsh realities facing the kids in these schools every day. We were all a little unsure of what their reaction to CRAVES might be, so in some schools we had support on hand to provide counseling in the event that reactions got too intense.
The students were absolutely incredible. I was so impressed by their creativity, curiosity, and engagement. Standing out in front of any group is a total coin-flip in terms of how well you’ll be able to connect with the audience, but in these schools the rapport was almost effortless.
I am really hopeful that memories from my visit will echo within these students and their communities, inspiring their creativity and empowering them to make healthy choices. I would love to see this program grow and expand to reach more and more students. I’d re-worked my entire CRAVES presentation for this trip and I was kinda nervous about how it was going to go down , but now I can confidently say that it is my favorite book to present to k-5 classes.
I feel so blessed and humbled to have had the opportunity to share CRAVES with communities in the UP this week. Thanks to Marquette, Baraga, and Ontonagon Counties for having me…hope to see you all again soon!