2002 Newbery Medal-Winning Author Visits Michigan Indies

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Two independent bookstores in the Detroit, Michigan, area were recently treated to a visit from the 2002 Newbery Medal winner, children's author Linda Sue Park. Dressed in a traditional Korean gown, Park talked about her writing, answered questions, and autographed copies of her books at Halfway Down the Stairs Children's Book Shop in Rochester, on Friday, June 28, and the next day at Book Beat in Oak Park. Park won the Newbery, which is awarded annually by the American Library Association, for her novel A Single Shard.

Dressed in a traditional Korean gown, Linda Sue Park speaks to an attentive audience at Halfway Down the Stairs Children's Book Shop.

Both author events garnered good turnouts and the bookstore owners only had rave reviews for Park's appearance. "Lots of people showed up and bought books [for Park to autograph]," said Camilla Mannino, owner of Halfway Down the Stairs, who said that approximately 70 people attended the event (a large number for a children's author event on a Friday evening at 7:00 p.m., she pointed out). "People loved her," she said. "She was warm and funny. She's very bright and has a lively mind." Mannino noted that Park spoke for 40 minutes ("much longer than I could have hoped"), then answered questions and spent almost an hour autographing stock.

Colleen Kammer, owner of Book Beat, told BTW that she had rooted for Park's novel, A Single Shard, to win the Newbery, which it did in January 2002. Having the author actually speak at her store was a special occurrence, she said, especially considering that the Book Beat is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. "She's a beautiful speaker, with great composure," Kammer said. "People asked intelligent questions and responded well."

Linda Sue Park poses with members of the summer book reading group at Halfway Down the Stairs Children's Book Shop.

Kammer noted that there were about 80 to 90 people in attendance for the early Saturday afternoon event, including five local authors and illustrators, the Detroit Free Press, and reporters from two Detroit-area Korean newspapers. One of the papers even presented Park with Stanley Cup-winning Detroit Red Wings memorabilia, Kammer added.

Park's appearance at both bookstores also offered a special opportunity for two reading groups. A new summer book reading group, which is composed of sixth grade boys and girls, had recently picked A Single Shard as their first reading group book. They attended Park's appearance at Halfway Down the Stairs Children's Book Shop and "asked a lot of wonderful questions," said Mannino.

The Mother/Daughter Book Club, whose members are in the midst of reading Park's first novel, Seesaw Girl, came to Book Beat to hear Park. "Everyone but two [members of the book club] showed up," Kammer said. -- David Grogan