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  • Writer's pictureBenay Hicks


By Daniele Berman, Community Partnerships Manager

If you follow our blog, you’ll know we usually post on Thursdays. Well, this week, I just couldn’t wait. Because today was one of the most fun Monday mornings we’ve ever had at Book Harvest. The story actually started last May…

Kwame Alexander child thank you (2)

…when I received this most delightful letter from Shunwel. Some of his teachers at Shepard Middle School have regularly attended our Books to Go events, where they select hundreds of books to bring back to their students, so the students can choose the ones they love most to take home and keep forever. Clearly, Shunwel found one he loved.

Just reading Shunwel’s letter last May was enough to delight all of us around the office, and we passed it around and wiped away happy tears and even shared it on Facebook. The end, and a happy one at that.

Except not. Because little did we know that Kwame Alexander, the Newberry Award-winning author mentioned in the letter, would soon be in Chapel Hill on a tour for his new book, The Playbook. When Ginger Young, Book Harvest’s executive director, heard about his visit, she dropped everything to go to his event at the Chapel Hill Library on Sunday, with a copy of Shunwel’s letter in hand. She introduced herself to Kwame, bought and had him sign a copy of his book, and gave him the letter, thanking him for being such a force for good in children’s publishing. The end.

Except not, again. Because this morning, when Kwame first had a chance to read Shunwel’s letter, he called Ginger: he wanted to go to Shunwel’s school and meet him. A few phone calls later, and Kwame, his touring partner Randy Preston, and I were on our way to surprise Shunwel. The video below tells the rest of the story, but be warned: you might want to grab a tissue before you watch:

We couldn’t be more thankful to Kwame for being such a force for good–for his commitment to inspire and empower young people and for giving the gift of poetry to the many students who love his books. And thanks to our colleagues at Shepard Middle School for helping us make this fun surprise happen!

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