Huntsville Author Tearful When Donating 26 Library Books; Each Individually Honors Sandy Hook Victims
by Paul Huggins - The Huntsville Tims
HUNTSVILLE, Alabama -- Despite all the hours and thought Beck McDowell put into choosing and donating 26 children's books to honor the victims of the Sandy Hook School shooting, she still couldn't hold back her tears as she gazed at the faces that will look out from each book cover.
Huntsville author Beck McDowell, right, reviews the titles of children's books she donated to Huntsville-Madison County Public Library with help from library communications director Ann Marie Martin. (Paul Hugginsemail@example.com)
"I think it was the book plates that did me in," the suddenly distraught Huntsville author said of the 26 memorial markers that will adorn in inside covers of the books she donated Tuesday. "Just seeing those sweet faces."
The donation to the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library completes a two-month labor of love that McDowell hopes will inspire more library donations in memory of the 20 children and six adults gunned down in Newtown, Conn., in December.
McDowell, a former Huntsville High School English teacher, felt compelled to pick 26 books to match the personalities of each victim, as a way to deal with the pain she felt over the tragedy. Though she didn't know any of the victims or their families, the event struck a common chord because of a longtime fear of facing a hostage situation as a teacher.
She poured those fears into a young adult novel, "This Is Not a Drill," recently published by Nancy Paulsen Books, an imprint of Penguin Group USA Inc. Read a Huntsville Times review.
"I don't want to seem presumptuous that I know these children, but I do feel a connection," she said. "After spending a year writing the story and developing characters . . . I feel in some odd way like these are my kids."
These black and white proofs of book plates contain the names and photos of the 26 victims of the Sandy Hook tragedy. The markers will go in the inside cover of books donated in their memory. (Paul Hugginsfirstname.lastname@example.org)
McDowell said the idea of choosing a book specifically for each victim came through her frustration at not being able to remember the children's names just days after the shooting. Initially, she was able to match books she knew with memories parents shared of their slain children. She ran out of ideas, however, halfway through the list.
Since then, she's been researching unfamiliar or new children's titles, and one of her choices, "Pete the Cat: Play Ball!," is still a week away from publication. It took a while, but she finally found books that match the children's personalities, while also remaining positive and appropriate for young readers.
Noah Pozner, for example, said he loved tacos so much, he hoped to manage a taco factory when he grew up. McDowell honored him by donating "Dragons Love Tacos" by Adam Rubin. And in memory of Emilie Parker, who carried markers and paper frequently just in case she needed to draw a cheerful card for someone feeling sad, McDowell donated "Each Kindness" by Jacqueline Woodson.
See the full list of 26 books donated and a synopsis of each victim's personalities at beckmcdowell.com.
Beck McDowell donated "Hello, Hello" a book by Matthew Cordell, in memory of Jessica Rekos, who loved everything about horses. (Paul Hugginsemail@example.com)
The donations, which cost a little more than $300, brought the cathartic effect McDowell sought, she said, and now she's mainly excited to give local children new books to read.
Six of the books she donated are new to the library collections. These include "The Best Bike Ever" by James Proimos, "Pete the Cat: Play Ball!" by James Dean, "Rose's Foal" by Scarlett Lewis, "Subway" by Christoph Niemann, "Sylvie" by Jennifer Sattler and "Giraffes Can't Dance" by Giles Andreae.
"I would really like to see others do it," she said of donating in memory of Sandy Hook. "If book clubs, Key clubs, school groups, even faculty could do the same, maybe donate to school libraries, that would be so wonderful. I just love anything that helps inspire children to read."
This article was updated Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013, at 9:40 p.m. with the list of new books added to the library collection.Read the original article here: http://blog.al.com/breaking/2013/02/huntsville_author_tearful_when.html