I Will Always Write Back: How One Letter Changed Two Lives
Caitlin Alifirenka & Martin Ganda with Liz Welch
Little, Brown and Company
Told through alternating chapters by Caitlin from the United States and Martin from Zimbabwe, this memoir will impress readers with the strong dedication from two teens to maintain a friendship by mail that many would have given up on. The inspirational writing will have many searching for their own pen pal. The photographs of the pair show their obvious differences and it was a pleasure to return to them again and again as the suspenseful story progressed. The book is organized into four parts (Hallo!, Clues, Generosity, A Future) following the deepening friendship of Caitlyn and Martin. The cover design resembles an airmail envelope reminding us this takes place before e-mail is common. The epilogue at the end updates readers on where the pair are now. This is a unique story and a cultural lesson full of love and caring that will appeal to tweens and teens.
Jump Back, Paul: The Life and Poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar
This book has not only an Ohio connection, but a Dayton, Ohio connection, which is one reason I appreciated it so much. Kid here have heard of Paul Laurence Dunbar, are taught about this fellow high schooler of Orville and Wilbur Wright, can visit his home just west of downtown, and can probably even recite some of his poetry. (Most adult readers will be familiar with his line from Sympathy, "I know what the caged bird feels, alas!")
The voice of this book is distinct, reminiscent of a grandmother sharing Dunbar's story. There wouldn’t be a story without the inclusion of some of the poems written by Dunbar, and since his poems couldn’t tell his entire story either, this is a wonderful combination of both.
I am a writer of Children's and Young Adult books. I received my MFA in Creative Writing for Children and Young Adults from Hamline University in St. Paul, MN, and am an active member of SCBWI. I also have my MLS in Library Science with an emphasis on children and happily worked as a Children's Librarian for nearly 20 years. One of my favorite activities was reading books aloud to kids, especially to school-aged kids. Like the kids, I enjoy having stories read to me, so I listen to many of my books on audio and serve on audio judging committees.
Another favorite activity is creating fun snacks for library programs, friends, and family. I do that a lot and continually search for more ideas.
I have a very large Russian Blue mix cat named Bosley from the shelter, and a rescue dog named Prince Albert. He's a Cavapoo, which means he's part Cavalier King Charles and part poodle, and adorable. I am married and live in Dayton, Ohio with my husband Rod.
You can find more detailed information about me by clicking the link below: