Painting the Town with Literacy
Elementary staff in bright lime green t-shirts fanned out across Granite Falls to hand out free books on April 22nd. Within an hour 420 copies of “Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet” were distributed.
Happy recipients in the parking lots of both elementary schools and a variety of spots around town thanked staff for the gift. The IGA team of Stacy Simmons, Debbie Hanby and Allison Schierman ran out quickly as customers eagerly grabbed all their books.
Debra Howell and Wendy Beach approached drivers leaving the McDonald’s drive up window and Theresa Bolyard energetically ran between Pharm-A-Save, the post office and Playa Bonita offering books.
Cheryl Pullen stood at the four-way stop armed with books.
“We want to share the love of literature with you!” read the flyers in each book. Monte Cristo Elementary and Mountain Way Elementary staff love reading and want to promote reading in the community. “A community that reads, raises a generation that reads…”
Debra Howell, Monte Cristo Multi-age teacher, confessed the book hand-out almost did not happen. “When I went to pick the books up at Barnes & Noble on Saturday I quickly discovered there was only one box instead of 20 boxes of books. I just about died,” said Howell. “After a very stressful three days and lots of emails back-and-forth with World Book Night, it all came together at about noon yesterday. Up until then I wasn’t sure if we were going to have any more than two boxes of books.”
World Book Night is an annual celebration dedicated to spreading the love of reading, person to person. Each year on April 23rd, tens of thousands of people go out into their communities and give half a million free World Book Night paperbacks to light and non-readers.
World Book Night is about giving books and encouraging reading in those who don’t regularly do so. But it is also about more than that: It’s about people, communities and connections, about reaching out to others and touching lives in the simplest of ways—through the sharing of stories.
World Book Night was launched in the U.K. in 2011, World Book Night was first celebrated in the U.S. in 2012. For more information, check the website.
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet:
The 2014 book chosen for Granite Falls is the first novel written by Jamie Ford. The setting is Seattle. Ford is the great-grandson of Nevada mining pioneer Min Chung, who emigrated from Kaiping, China, to San Francisco in 1865, where he adopted the Western name “Ford,” thus confusing countless generations. Ford is an award-winning short-story writer, an alumnus of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, and a survivor of Orson Scott Card’s Literary Boot Camp. Having grown up near Seattle’s Chinatown, he now lives in Montana with his wife and children.
The story starts in 1986, as Henry Lee joins a crowd outside the Panama Hotel, once the gateway to Seattle’s Japantown. It has been boarded up for decades, but now the new owner has discovered the belongings of Japanese families who were sent to internment camps during World War II. As the owner displays and unfurls a Japanese parasol, Henry, a Chinese American, remembers a young Japanese American girl from his childhood in the 1940s—Keiko Okabe, with whom he forged a bond of friendship and innocent love that transcended the prejudices of their Old World ancestors. After Keiko and her family were evacuated to the internment camps, she and Henry could only hope that their promise to each other would be kept. Now, forty years later, Henry explores the hotel’s basement for the Okabe family’s belongings and for a long-lost object whose value he cannot even begin to measure. His search will take him on a journey to revisit the sacrifices he has made for family, for love, for country.