|The 2015 Red Maple Awards Ceremony|
Dear Caroline Pignat,
You probably won't remember me, although you recently made my day by following me on Twitter. Way back in 2009, I was your "caretaker" at the Festival of Trees when your book, Egghead, was a Red Maple nominee. It is oddly comforting to discover that an author can be just as delightful and enjoyable company as the words he or she produces, and I found that to be true in your case when we first met. However, I wanted to write you and thank you, not for that past experience, but for your most recent book, Unspeakable. This book took me in directions I never expected. When I first started reading it, I thought, "Okay, this is just like the movie Titanic ... star-crossed lovers, tragic shipwreck, yadda yadda." Despite my cynicism that I'd "seen this before", I was still engaged by the description of life aboard a cruise ship. Just when I thought the story was done, it propelled me into a completely different tangent. Ellie's sullen disposition made so much more sense - she was not just a rich brat, but a woman with terrible losses and great determination. Jim wasn't just a handsome, brooding, YA hero - he wrestled with personal demons that stretched beyond the shipwreck. Ellie's relationship with the journalist, Wyatt Steele, kept me guessing, but I was so happy to see that in the end, women and men can be just friends. It was a sweet victory to see how her aunt's writing was more valuable and powerful than even her land and manor, and that it benefited Ellie and Wyatt - life doesn't always reward the deserving and punish the wrongdoers, but it felt so satisfying to see it happen in the final pages of the novel. I know that my students enjoyed the book just as much as I did, so thank you very much for writing such an engaging story.
|Kevin Sylvester MCd this year's Red Maple ceremony|
Dear Sigmund Brouwer,
You've written a lot of books. As a teacher-librarian, I've read a lot of books. There are only a few where they are so good that I have to put them down. That sentence may not make a lot of sense. What I mean is that there are times where the plot is so intense, that I'm afraid to see what happens next and I have to stop reading to calm myself down and get ready for the next chapter. That's what happened to me when I read your recent novel, Dead Man's Switch. The concept had me thinking and predicting, and like King, your protagonist, I kept my fingers crossed that good would prevail, despite the incredible odds against it all working out. I really was torn - should King trust and believe his best friend or his father? The action was non-stop and I admired how clever his computer-savvy friend was to plant so many clues. The postscript with all the possibilities was a creepy counterpoint to the fiction. Thank you so much for writing a book that, not only pre-teens and teens devoured, but the educators that work with those pre-teens and teens can enjoy too.