Author makes virtual visit to Brentwood Library
Tuesday, December 6, 2011 10:02 pm
By JODI RALL
The Brentwood Bunch Book Club, a group of third- through fifth-graders, met this past Friday for a special visit from an author. Only the author was not in the room, it was a virtual visit via Skype.
While virtual author visits are becoming a trend in schools, it is not a common event at a public library. Many adults are new to the virtual world, but the children were not fazed and handled the visit as if the author were standing right next to them. Patricia Rua-Bashir, children’s services programmer for elementary age students, organized the visit.
Author Nora Raleigh Baskin’s book Anything but Typical was the book assigned to the children for the month of November. On Friday the children brought with them questions they had for Baskin about the book and being a writer.
At the beginning of the Skype session, Baskin made it clear she would answer questions for about 15 minutes. The 15 minutes turned into almost 30 minutes as the author expressed how impressed she was with the children’s questions and thought-provoking answers given to her. Several times Baskin exclaimed, “You children are amazing!”
Julie Cumming, whose son Ben attends the book club, said: “Ben just loves it. He looks forward to the meetings. What a great experience.”
Ben asked questions with the author and knew the answer to how long does it usually take to write a book. Baskin said it takes her about a year and this is atypical, asking the children how long they thought it might take? Ben raised his hand and replied “five years.” Baskin said, “You are right, young man.”
The book Anything but Typical addresses autism through the main character of Jason, who is non-verbal although he can express himself beautifully through his writing. What unfolds for this 12 year-old-boy is a journey into the typical adolescent world of having that first crush. The problem for young Jason begins when the young lady wants to meet him, face to face. Will she see him for who he really is?
The writer’s breathtaking description of Jason’s struggle has earned Baskin several awards. Publishers Weekly said the book “should readily capture the reader and open eyes.” Nominated for the Tennessee Volunteer State Book Awards sponsored by the Tennessee Library Association and the Tennessee Association of School Librarians, Anything but Typical has won starred reviews both by Booklist and Kirkus Reviews.
Most of the children attend Williamson County schools, although a few were home-schooled. The maturity in which the children handled both the subject matter and dove into understanding plot and character development exemplifies how important literacy with young people is in the education process. Beginning a book club at such a young age and having the opportunity to interact with authors is an important learning process.
Baskin shared during the question-and-answer time that writing this book “pushed me as an artist. Could I write something challenging myself?”
The children asked questions about how she chose her characters, her favorite character and why she chose to write a book within a book.
If interested in joining a book club through the library, call 615-371-0090 ext. 8290 or email