Recently, First Book promised to distribute one million brand-new books to kids in need across the country in just ten days.
Those ten days are up, and we are as good as our word. Better, even … altogether we distributed a little over 1.2 million books to the schools and programs in our national network. Woot!
25,000 of those books went to kids at Title I schools across Montana. Heather Denny, a Title I specialist in Montana who was instrumental in helping First Book distribute the books at a statewide conference of Title I teachers, emailed us this morning to tell us how excited her colleagues were.
“It was amazing!” she wrote. “You should have seen the smiles on our teacher’s faces. We had a retiring teacher who worked in the book room all day because she wanted to see the young teachers coming in and leaving with boxes of books.”
If that doesn’t warm your heart, you are made of sterner stuff than we are.
Thanks to everyone who made this possible, from the hard-working volunteers who spent long, tiring days in warehouses to the generous publishers who provided the books to our nonprofit and corporate partners who provide the support needed, and especially to all the teachers and local program leaders who take these books and use them to turn kids into readers.
Want to get involved in our next amazing book distribution? Click here to sign up for our newsletter and we’ll send you monthly emails sharing stories and letting you know how you can get involved in your community.
Last week First Book distributed close to 1 million books in Seattle, Washington and Minneapolis, Minnesota. This week, we have a team in Milwaukee, Wisconsin distributing 420,000 books to programs and schools that serve kids in need. Of those 420,000 books, more than 100,000 will be distributed locally throughout the Southeastern Wisconsin area.
To make this distribution possible, New Threads of Hope is donating warehouse space and assistance with logistics, and M&I employees are serving as volunteers, assisting with the packing, shipping and pick up of books throughout the week.
We are incredibly grateful for all of the volunteers and support that we have had over the past couple of weeks. Thanks to the help of of our many volunteers and partners, we are well on our way to distributing 1.2 million books in just 10 days!
Want to learn more? Click here to sign up for our newsletter and we’ll send you photos, video and information about how you can help get books to kids in need.
First Book was in Milwaukee last week, getting books to kids. We’ve been on the road a lot this summer; we try to spread our massive book distributions across the country so that schools and programs that can’t afford the shipping costs for the free books can still get what they need for the kids that they serve.
We are very happy with our books. We have had to stop getting them if we have to pay for shipping because there is no money in our budget. I have looked for grants to pay for books, but so far in vain. These will last us for a while. Thank you!
Lynn Flynn, PADS Crisis Services, Inc., Chicago
It was as hot in Milwaukee as it has been everywhere, we are sorry to report, but despite the heat we managed to get over 400,000 books distributed, almost a quarter of those to programs in Wisconsin and nearby areas.
As always, we got the chance to meet lots of amazing people:
- the men and woman who work with kids in need every day
- the hard-working volunteers that lug boxes and load station wagons with books
- the partners – like NewThreads of Hope – who loan us the warehouses
- and the publishers – like Disney Publishing Worldwide – who provide the books.
It takes a lot of people to make these book distributions possible, and we are grateful. We’re also grateful to the fine people of Milwaukee for having us. Go Bucks!
See, Roger? I can purloin it and make it my own title. That's the beauty of blogging.
So. Funny story. I wrote an article for Horn Book aaaaaaaaand... they printed it. Really top drawer of them. I am now a "blogonatrix" according to Roger. I can live with this. It's easy to live with words that don't, but should, exist (though a Google search came up with at least two other people in the world who have used the term "blogonatrix" in the past). In related news, there's a cool new History portion on the Horn Book website at the moment. I'm kinda hooked on the letters section. Did you see the Roald Dahl exchange with Eleanor Cameron? Aw, snap!
So far we’ve gone 10,956 miles in 49 days, with only 6 days to go. As I type we’re whooshing down Route I-94 heading toward Michigan. Not too long ago we went into Indiana, a state we’re passing through for only a few minutes—but it still counts! :-) The grass and shrubs have definitely looked more shaggy since Illinois, but that’s new. For the past few days we’ve been in clean, manicured farm country.
Let’s catch up:
Wall Drug, SD and the Badlands
Wednesday, the day after we saw Mount Rushmore, was a long driving day (about 700 miles!), but Karen is never one to let a cool-sounding place pass by without calling out “Stop!” So that’s what we did in Wall Drug, South Dakota, where the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally was in full swing. The entire town, which was originally built around a drug store, was filled with bikers, bikers, and more bikers. How could we pass up a chance to buy a Harley Davidson t-shirt in the biker heartland of America?
BIG, BAD BADLANDS
The badlands: Truly bad, or just misunderstood? Here’s Evan:
EVAN: The Badlands were covered with white rock and it seemed sort of like the moon. It was very hot and I liked it because in some places the rock was burned so badly that it made colors (Mark’s note: actually, this was different levels of sediment—and way cool) and suddenly when you leave the Badlands it looks like you’re in the regular world again. There were a lot of motorcycle guys everywhere too.
So then we reached Minnesota. The photo above was the most difficult "entering a new state" photo we've taken. The sign was on the highway, and we had to climb up a hill, through some brambles, and then squeeze into a tiny area of dirt in the middle of some bushes. Note that Evan is parting a shrub with his arm so the state name can be seen.
In Minnesota we stayed Chaska, just outside of Minneapolis, with our friends Patricia Danielson, Vicki Boeddeker, and Mike Weinkauf. Patricia took a couple of days off work to show us around the Twin Cities. We saw first-hand the damaged remains of the collapsed bridge on I-35W—just awful. Five weeks and two days after crossing the Mississippi in the south (into Louisiana), we crossed it in the north. It’s a lot calmer in the north! We also saw the beautiful state capital building. Thanks Patricia, Vicki, and Mike!
A note from KAREN: Mark asked why I’ve only been writing about bad experiences. I don’t see it that way, I see them as different experiences than life in Wayland, MA. For example, my 2nd night in Vicki’s house. Here we are, comfy cozy, away from bears and rattlesnakes, what else could happen at night? My first big lightening storm on the prairies of Minnesota, that’s what!! Holy cow ! I got out of bed and was blinded by the flashing lightning, and then jumped out of my PJ’s when I heard the loud crack and kaboom of the lightning right outside the window! Did a tree fall down? Did we get hit by lightning? Another night of no sleeping because of fear!! The next morning, as usual, everyone including Mark said it was a normal storm, no big deal . WELL, we got an email from a friend in the area who said the storm blew out windows like a tornado and power was out for a few days. She asked if we were in the eye of the storm! See, I’m not crazy!!
Wild Rupus was wild indeed. An amazing independent bookstore in Minneapolis, the whole store was designed to look like it was transforming from an inside space to the outdoors. Helping to create the effect were a whole menagerie of animals, including chickens, ferrets, Australian flying squirrels, fish, tarantulas, rats and many more. The kids were in heaven. Here we are with Manager Kristin Bergsagel bookseller Josh Harrod, Poopsie the ferret, and a Japanese chicken named Elvis. Thanks, Wild Rumpus—you are terrific!
THE RED BALLOON
Like a matching bookend to Wild Rumpus in Minneapolis, St. Paul is home to another amazing bookstore called The Red Balloon. Susan Hepburn was a terrific host, serving up lemon drops and lemonade. The Red Balloon is another must-visit bookstore for anyone the St. Paul area!
As a nice surprise, we were lucky enough to meet Shelley Swanson Sateren, fellow SCBWI member and author of the middle-grade novel Cat on a Hottie’s Tin Roof. Here’s Evan’s review:
EVAN’S REVIEW: Cat on a Hottie’s Tin Roof is a fun book about a girl who is geeky who when her friend moves away from Paris she finds a new friend who is stylish and cool. It was an interesting story because it’s interesting to see how a girl with so much smarts can try and be cool and fit in with everyone else. You should read it.
It was great to meet you, Shelley!
BACK TO THE HONDA DEALER ONE MORE TIME
Penelope’s rattling got kind of dubious so we stopped at the Honda dealer in Hopkins, MN. $560 later, (replaced ‘severely cracked’ exhaust manifold and gaskets, oil change, new battery) the minivan sounded a bit better—at least for the first twenty miles or so. After that, we’re pretty much back to the rattling we started out with. Oh well, it’s only money. :-)
Here’s Shane Beals, the Honda guy who washed Penelope—she badly needed it. Thanks, Shane!
Next we drove through Wisconsin, a land of beautiful manicured farms and more red barns than you can shake a cheddar wheel at. So lovely!
In Green Bay we stopped to see a surprisingly large athletic facility where a local team plays a sport that apparently involves feet and leather hats. I hear that the locals are rather enthusiastic about it.
Just south of Green Bay, in DePere, is Butterfly Books, a roomy and cheerful independent bookstore run by Barbara Wilson. Barbara and her friendly team of booksellers were very kind, staying open later than usual on a Saturday afternoon just so that we could visit. Here I am with Barbara and Samantha Parker, bookseller and saxophone player. Great to meet you!
ROLLING AROUND IN PAIN IN MILWAUKEE
In Milwaukee we stayed with our friends Posh (really Josh, but he’s yet another friend with a mysterious nickname given by Karen) and Boris. They showed us around Milwaukee, and took us for custard at Kopps, a Milwaukee thing-to-do. The custard was a lot like ice cream except a lot denser—it’s made with eggs and who-knows-what-else and it sneaks up on you. Thank god I only had a small cone—by bedtime I felt so full that I rolled around in pain clutching at my stomach. But honestly, it was so tasty it was worth it! :-)
As any fan of Laverne and Shirley can tell you, Milwaukee is home to many breweries, so how could we pass up the opportunity to tour the Miller factory?
In beautiful Cedarburg, WI, about twenty minutes north of Milwaukee, is the terrific Creekside Books. Owner Glen Switalski is a man with an amazing story: After his doctor told him he needed to lose weight, he lost well over 100 lbs by exercise, diet and sheer force of will. Today he can be seen riding his exercise bike in and around his store every day. The guy is an aerobic, bookselling powerhouse! Creekside Books is a great independent bookstore, and Gary is a truly an inspirational guy.
Here I am with Lindsay McLaughlin, a reader and artist who came to see me. She was fun to talk with, and very helpful in suggesting places we could go in the area. Great to meet you, Lindsay! :-)
Illinois: An All-Too-Short Trip Through the Land of Lincoln
Southward from Milwaukee...! Unfortunately, we had only a few hours in Illinois. Still, it counts as state number 31 on our trip! :-)
UNDER THE SYCAMORE TREE
In Grayslake, Illinois, about forty minutes north of Chicago, is a magical bookstore called Under the Sycamore Tree. A new independent store, owner Jackie Harris opened up shop this past November. It’s a roomy, bright place with a big “sycamore tree” inside. The store has taken inspiration from Wild Rumpus (see Minnesota) and filled its space with wild animals. My kids were in their element. Zoe ran at me with a giant grin and a very big python named ‘Snakey’. Under the Sycamore Tree is yet another example of how independent bookstores tend to be run by smart, thoughtful, nice people. Jackie, it was a pleasure to meet you!
Here I am with Jackie and her daughter, Haley:
Because we’re meeting a friend in Michigan later today, we had only about an hour or so to see Chicago. I know, I know—not even close to scratching the surface. So on top of just driving around a little, we decided that with our limited time we’d stop by Lake Michigan. As far as my eyes could tell, the lake might as well have been an ocean. Way cool. Next time, we’ll plan to spend more time here!
Our Trip Through Indiana: Don’t Blink Or You’ll Miss It
If you thought our stop in Chicago was too short, Indiana is only about a half hour of highway to us. Still, it counts as state #32. :-)
Next stop, Michigan!
LEMONADE MOUTH (Delacorte Press, 2007)
I AM THE WALLPAPER (Delacorte Press, 2005)
Jeremy Pettis is a Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based designer who creates some really amazing throwback typographical treatments. You may be familiar with his “26 Types Of Animals” project, in which he creates unique bespoke treatments through an alphabetical list of animal types. Jeremy’s website is dedicated mostly to that project, but you can find more real gems of work by digging through his flickr.
Also worth viewing:
Harry Murphy & Friends
Mimmo Castellano: Posters & Packaging
Trademark Tim Lahan
Not signed up for the Grain Edit RSS Feed yet? Give it a try. Its free and yummy.
Grain Edit recommends: Karel Martens: Printed Matter. Check it out here.
©2009 Grain Edit - catch us on Facebook and twitter