This past week is a bit of a blur. Mary and I have never been so busy nor worked so hard. I promise to share highlights from our amazing school visits and the WLMA/WALE conference BUT I just had to share about this book.
Of course, I had heard about it. But this has been such a busy fall already, I hadn’t had time to read it and planned to pick it up at the conference.
I know that the Watson dynasty (dad Richard Jesse Watson, saint-mom Susi Watson, brother Ben, and sister Faith) can do no wrong but this book blew me away. To be more accurate, it left me in tears. Of course I love the local connection — Deb Lund‘s son was the model for the main character in the book. But I wasn’t prepared for the elegance and power of Jesse Joshua Watson’s story. He brilliantly puts us in the heart and mind and body of a young boy left homeless after the catastrophic Haiti earthquake. The details are honest, powerful and subtle: the boy talks about building a “home” for his mother and himself in the soccer stadium with one piece of tin, six posts and three sheets. Later, we learn that he had attended a match at this stadium with his father, where they enjoyed a picnic of green papaya salad and sodas. Our hearts are broken when we understand that the father is not part of this new life in the soccer stadium’s tent city. A bundle of rags, tied together to form a ball, take the main character and some of the other children out of their horrific situation and into moments of childhood and normalcy. And throughout, Jesse remains true to the child’s point of view.
This is an amazing book. Yes, Jesse is a stunningly talented illustrator who brings people to life on the page like very few illustrators can. But this story is told as only a true story teller can tell it.
You must buy this book and give it to everyone you can think of. There was only one copy left at the conference bookstore; I bought it to donate to a church library. But I plan to buy more copies to donate to our local schools and libraries. It’s that good. It’s that wonderful. It’s that important.
A donation from each book is made to the Save the Children’s Haiti Emergency Relief Fund and you can make an even bigger difference by simply reading online.
Thank you for the heads up. I will definitely get Hope for Haiti for myself and copies for our book van to give away.
You raise an interesting point when you identify Jesse Watson as a true storyteller, and it brings me to pose a question for Ask Winston: Are writers born or created? That is, can someone be taught to tell a good story? If not, what can be taught?