The Importance of Libraries, a guest post by Joanne Rossmassler Fritz
Now, more than ever, libraries are important to children and teens, and, really, to the world. In a library, kids can find books about people like themselves, and books about other people, who are different from them. Books on science, nature, art, machines. Books about any topic that consumes their curiosity, including a broad range of fiction to inspire their imaginations. Only with reading widely and learning do children grow into mature, thoughtful, open-minded adults. Kids need libraries and the books they contain. All the books!
Libraries can be a home away from home for some kids, a place of refuge and peace. Librarians usually act as guides to the treasures hidden within a library, but can also be wise and trusted counselors and confidants.
In my second verse novel, RUPTURED, thirteen-year-old Claire loves books and libraries. She wants to be a librarian when she grows up. When her mother suffers a ruptured brain aneurysm and is hospitalized, Claire tries to find a book where the very ill mother doesn’t die but lives (especially a mother surviving a ruptured brain aneurysm). She can’t find one.
This mirrors my own search for a book like that. Children’s books have been my life for a long time, when I worked first as an editorial assistant in the Children’s Department of a New York publisher, next as an assistant librarian in a high school library, later for many years as a Children’s Bookseller in a large independent bookstore. I am a survivor of two ruptured brain aneurysms. And I tried for a long time to find a novel where the person who suffers the brain aneurysm rupture lives! Naturally, because of my lifelong association with children’s books, I searched for a children’s book about it. When I couldn’t find one, I realized I needed to write it myself: a novel to tell the world you can survive a ruptured brain aneurysm. At first, I tried to write it from the point of view of a teen with a brain aneurysm rupture, and it didn’t work, probably because I was much too close to the subject emotionally. When I switched to a young daughter’s POV and made it about her mother, it poured out of me.
Because Claire longs to be a librarian and loves to read more than anything, RUPTURED is not only a book about parental illness, healing, and families, but also about books! Within the text, I mention several modern classic novels and some more recent novels. They include The Line Tender by Kate Allen, Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool, and Falling Over Sideways by Jordan Sonnenblick (which also gave me Claire’s name!). They also include favorite books of both Claire and her new friend DeShawn, whose mother is also hospitalized with a brain aneurysm rupture. At one point, Claire and DeShawn discuss their favorite books. These include Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit, The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate, The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo, Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds, as well as his entire Track Series, Ghost, Patina, Sunny, and Lu.
Librarians play a small but important role in this book. In Portland, Maine, in the summer, while Claire’s mother is in the hospital there, Claire and her Aunt Bobbi walk down to the Public Library, where a very cool librarian in the teen section helps her with the search for a book in which the parent lives. The librarian comes up with Falling Over Sideways, about a father who has a stroke. When Claire goes back to school after summer is over, we learn that the school librarian is her favorite teacher, a teacher who changes her hijab to match the color of the book she’s currently reading. Both the librarian in the public library and the school librarian try to help Claire in her quest to find a book in which the mother survives a ruptured brain aneurysm. And both end up suggesting that she write the book herself!
Meet the author
Joanne Rossmassler Fritz has worked in a publishing company, a school library, and the Children’s Department of a large independent bookstore. She’s been writing most of her life, but didn’t get serious about it until after she survived the first of two brain aneurysm ruptures in 2005. She and her husband live in Southeastern Pennsylvania, and are the parents of two grown sons.
The sensitive, suspenseful story of a family coping with a life-changing tragedy, told in stunning verse.
Is it wrong to grieve for someone who is still alive?
Claire’s mom and dad don’t talk to each other much anymore. And they definitely don’t laugh or dance the way they used to. Their tense, stilted stand offs leave thirteen-year-old Claire, an only child, caught in the middle. So when the family takes their annual summer vacation, Claire sticks her nose in a book and hopes for the best. Maybe the sunshine and ocean breeze will fix what’s gone wrong.
But while the family is away, Claire’s mother has a ruptured brain aneurysm—right after she reveals a huge secret to Claire. Though she survives the rupture, it seems like she is an entirely different person. Claire has no idea if her mom meant what she said, or if she even remembers saying it. With the weight of her mom’s confession on her shoulders, Claire must navigate fear, grief, and prospects for recovery.
Will her mom ever be the same? Will her parents stay together? And if the answer to either question is yes, how will Claire learn to live with what she knows? This beautifully written novel speaks to kids’ fears and credits their strength, and stems from the author’s incredible experience surviving two ruptured aneurysms.
Publisher: Holiday House
Publication date: 11/14/2023
Age Range: 8 – 12 Years
Filed under: Guest Post
About Amanda MacGregor
Amanda MacGregor works in an elementary library, loves dogs, and can be found on Twitter @CiteSomething.
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