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An Author Visit

24 Jan

My school OBOB Battles began at 8:30 on Tuesday. The first student showed up around 8:20.

She was new to OBOB, having attended a private school for K-5, that did not participate in the Oregon Battle of the Books. She seemed nervous, maybe because she was the only student present, maybe because OBOB was new. Maybe both. I chatted with her a bit to ease her nervousness. When I asked her which was her favorite of the 8 books she read, she said, “The  Only Road” without any hesitation.

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It shouldn’t have surprised me that The Only Road, by Alexandra Diaz, was on this year’s OBOB list for grades 6-8. It was a 2017 Belpré Award Honor book. After finding out that this was her favorite book, I asked, “Are you  going to the presentation later this week?”

Her eyes twinkled as she replied, “Yes, and I am very excited to meet her.”

Yes, my school was fortunate enough to host Alexandra Diaz on Thursday morning. Unfortunately for me, two of the three sessions were during my class time. I signed several permission slips for my students to miss part of my class to either hear Ms. Diaz speak, or participate in a writing session with her.

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Fortunately, I was able to sit in on her first session, though I had to slip out before it was over.

A couple of seventh and eighth grade classes came in. Not every kid looked excited to be there. I was a little embarrassed, even though they weren’t my students – they were representing our school after all! I heard some talking and lack of interest, until she started talking about The Only Road.  By the time she mentioned the murder of Miguel by gangs, the chatter had stopped and attention was being paid. Go Jags!

I know that other students participating in OBOB attended the presentations. I heard good things from my students who attended the writing workshop. One of them told me, “You would have loved it.”

High praise indeed.

Publisher’s Summary of The Only Road: Twelve-year-old Jaime makes the treacherous and life-changing journey from his home in Guatemala to live with his older brother in the United States in this “powerful and timely” (Booklist, starred review) middle grade novel.

Jaime is sitting on his bed drawing when he hears a scream. Instantly, he knows: Miguel, his cousin and best friend, is dead.

Everyone in Jaime’s small town in Guatemala knows someone who has been killed by the Alphas, a powerful gang that’s known for violence and drug trafficking. Anyone who refuses to work for them is hurt or killed—like Miguel. With Miguel gone, Jaime fears that he is next. There’s only one choice: accompanied by his cousin Ángela, Jaime must flee his home to live with his older brother in New Mexico.

 

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