It began as a normal morning. I staggered out of bed and went straight to my computer to make sure I hadn’t missed any great breaking news while I slept.
Clicking on the few emails that came in through the night, I opened the one that said, “Congratulations! Your book Hidden Gold has been nominated for the 2016-17 Red Maple Award.” At first it didn’t sink in, I thought it was another spam, like I won an Air Canada trip or FedEx had a package for me and all I had to do was click on a link. But this email was different, it had no link and it went on to explain that Hidden Gold was nominated by the Ontario Library Association to be part of the 2016-2017 Forest of Reading, the largest recreational reading program in Canada.
I clenched my laptop and brought it in closer. I read on as the emotion welled up in my eyes. I reread the email, but was only glossing over the words. It wasn’t really sinking in. Was this even possible? It was just after 5:00 a.m. and I couldn’t share the information with anyone except the dog.
The email outlined everything that was going to happen to me because of this nomination.
I was going to be part of the OLA Super Conference, be part of the Author’s Booking Service and have increased presentations in schools and libraries. Thousands of kids were going to read my book. They said they hoped I would enjoy the increased sales and finally they talked about the award ceremony on the stage at Harbourfront on May 16, 2017. “Almost 10,000 people come. At the Festival, readers who have read your book will have the honour of hosting you – introducing you formally to their peers in the audience.”
I put down my computer and had a pretty intense chat with my mom. Divine intervention? With tears streaming down my face I thanked her. I’ve always maintained that my mother, who died when I was a young teen, was guiding my hand as I wrote. I could feel the words spill out of my heart and onto the screen. I could feel her soul inside me as I reconstructed her story. I felt what she felt. There were many times when I was so overcome with emotion that I could not continue to write. Now mom was making sure that the Holocaust and her family’s story would live on in young minds forever.
My uncle David, who accompanies me on many of the presentations, would realize that the horrors he is reliving when he was a 12-year-old boy, now have a purpose. The book’s study guide, which my sister wrote, would be used to teach young adults all over the country about the Holocaust and how hope triumphed over despair and love over evil.
Later that afternoon I called my publisher to confirm that this was not a dream. Margie Wolfe’s exact words were, “You’re going to feel like a rock star.”
In these tumultuous times, with the hate in the world, it is more important than ever that the words Never Again are taken literally and that we all do what we can to force the leaders of nations to stop the suffering of innocent people. Knowledge is power. Indifference is not an option.
As 2016 comes to an end, I hope that 2017 will usher in more understanding, peace and hope for all. May the coming year fill your lives with knowledge, meaning, compassion, laughter and love.
Happy New Year.