Tuesday, June 21, 2016

TINY STITCHES by Gwendolyn Hooks -- GIVEAWAY!


I loved Tiny Stitches!

There's no doubt Vivien Thomas' story is historically significant, but his journey toward developing a groundbreaking procedure for pediatric open-heart surgery is also dramatic and incredibly moving. Gwendolyn Hooks writes in a clear, engaging manner, and her words are enhanced by the watercolor paintings of illustrator Colin Bootman. TINY STITCHES, intended for readers 8 and up, would make a great addition to your home, school or church library.

I am giving away one signed copy of TINY STITCHES to a lucky U.S. winner. (I'll even throw in a signed copy of my own book, Ghostlight, to sweeten the pot.) Read more about TINY STITCHES below, and then enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

More about the book:
Vivien Thomas's greatest dream was to attend college to study medicine. But after the stock market crashed in 1929, Vivien lost all his savings. Then he heard about a job opening at the Vanderbilt University medical school under the supervision of Dr. Alfred Blalock. Vivien knew that the all-white school would never admit him as a student, but he hoped working there meant he was getting closer to his dream.

As Dr. Blalock's research assistant, Vivien learned surgical techniques. In 1943, Vivien was asked to help Dr. Helen Taussig find a cure for children with a specific heart defect. After months of experimenting, Vivien developed a procedure that was used for the first successful open-heart surgery on a child. Afterward, Dr. Blalock and Dr. Taussig announced their innovative new surgical technique, the Blalock-Taussig shunt. Vivien s name did not appear in the report.

Overcoming racism and resistance from his colleagues, Vivien ushered in a new era of medicine children s heart surgery. Tiny Stitches is the compelling story of this incredible pioneer in medicine.

What reviewers are saying:
Beyond the crucial message of perseverance and spotlight on prejudiced attitudes that still resonate today, this middle-grade picture book illuminates the life of little-known man whose innovations continue to be essential to modern medicine. --Booklist, starred review

By focusing on the enormous talent and skill of Thomas and depicting instances in which he was dismissed by white coworkers and by the media, the text is an insight into not only this innovator's life but the social and institutional conditions that allow for African American contributions in medicine and science to go largely unrecognized. --School Library Journal

A good alternative to dense, chapter biographies and a rousing tribute to a man unjustly forgotten. --Kirkus Reviews

Hooks writes with vivid detail and immediacy, describing Thomas's anxiety as he coaches Dr. Blalock, the doctor who originally hired him, on performing the first surgery. Bootman's subdued watercolors channel the sobering climate of Depression-era America in a sensitive portrayal of a little-recognized medical pioneer. --Publishers Weekly

The Giveaway! (US entrants only, please!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, June 10, 2016

Friday Favorites: Disney Magic


It's been a week since we returned from a Disney World trip with my nieces, and it surprises me how much I miss the place. There was a time when I thought I was too old for Disney, but now I find myself already fantasizing about another visit. What is it about Disney that keeps calling me back? I had a little think about it, and here's what I came up with:


1. There's something deeply satisfying about hugging a large furry creature you recognize from childhood stories.
We booked several character meals -- all for my nieces, right? Well, the grownups enjoyed them just as much. My very favorite dinner was at the Crystal Palace, where we met characters from Winnie-the-Pooh. How lovely to get a hug from Pooh Bear! Tigger was particularly cuddly, and we all had fun pulling mopey faces with Eeyore. One of my favorite pics of a character hug, however, is this one of Steve with Olaf. Doesn't Olaf seem absolutely delighted? ;)


2. I still love Disney rides!
Above you see us riding the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and the camera caught me mid-scream. We're all familiar with that rush of adrenaline--that fear/joy combination of losing control. But Disney also offers the opportunity to take control, at least in our imaginations. Interactive rides like Toy Story Mania, Test Track, and even Tomorrowland Speedway give you the illusion of control while being entirely safe and family-friendly. My favorite, Mission: Space, was utter fantasy -- nothing I did affected the outcome of our journey to Mars, but IT FELT GREAT. I was Han Solo, you guys! Or better yet, Samantha Carter! I DID A SLING-SHOT MANEUVER AROUND THE MOON! I haven't screamed or whooped that much in a long time.

(Note: I love the "green" level of Mission: Space. The girls wanted to try "orange," which offers spinning and g-forces. They were perfectly fine, but I was a bit urpy afterwards. No more orange for me.)


3. Even old fogies like me still experience moments of "the flash" at Disney.
"The Flash" is the best phrase I could conjure, and I stole it from Lucy Maud Montgomery. Her character, Emily Starr, defined it as being:
very near to a world of wonderful beauty. Between it and herself hung only a thin curtain; she could never draw the curtain aside -but sometimes, just for a moment, a wind fluttered it and then it was as if she caught a glimpse of the enchanting realm beyond -only a glimpse- and heard a note of unearthly music.
As a kid at Disney, I would often have moments where I sensed the fairy world all around me and, at times, could almost see it. I felt "the flash" when walking through Cinderella's castle and when riding "It's a Small World" and other "little kid" rides. (I know some folks hate "It's a Small World," but as a kid it filled me with joy to see scads of beautiful children who, apparently, HAD ALL THE POWER. No adults necessary!) I even felt the flash as a teen in the World Showcase, when visiting the different countries and feeling, for a moment, like I was actually in those foreign lands. As an adult, I have a different sort of flash -- that feeling of connecting with my younger self. I felt it on all the kiddie rides. I felt it when my nieces met Anna and Elsa and other characters. I certainly felt it during the Frozen sing-along. And it nearly overwhelmed me at the Beast's castle (see above).

It seems "Disneyfication" is a bad word these days. People crave authenticity, and I for one love to visit real castles, cottages, villages, mountains, and lakes. But I am also a total sucker for Disney magic. Yes, it's all a [very expensive] illusion. There are crowds, there is HEAT, there are meltdowns all around. But there also are moments of joy and wonder that take me straight back to childhood. I'm so glad we've been able to experience Disney World twice with my nieces. They definitely contributed to our sense of enchantment!

Okay, Disney fans -- what have I missed? What do YOU love about Disney?

[cross-posted at Livejournal]