Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Author's message resonates beyond sports

Joseph sat on the edge of his seat, occasionally chuckling, as he listened to sports journalist Mike Lupica relate anecdotes from the world of sports and explain how he comes up with story ideas during a book signing for his latest book, "True Legend". My 9-year-old son was so excited to meet a famous author of books he enjoys and it was extra exciting that he met Lupica on the day the new book came out.

Joseph especially enjoyed listening to the sportswriter talk about his inspiration for and process writing his first young adult novel, "Travel Team", about a group of kids who were cut from a travel basketball team. Lupica's focus on kids' resilience in overcoming adversity rings true beyond sports. Sure, the theme resonates with Joseph from an athletic standpoint. More than once, he has had to brush off a tough loss on the tennis court and go back out there for another match, or deal with the disappointment of not being able to participate in an event when he thought he had earned a spot to compete.

But, as a child with life-threatening allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, milk, egg, soy, sesame and mustard, he also can relate to the need to rise above obstacles in his daily life. I am proud of the way he overcomes various issues, whether he is ensuring his safety by avoiding an unsafe food or event, keeping his head high while the target of unkind comments about his allergies, moving past anxiety about a potentially dangerous situation, or focusing on what he can have and do, in spite of his allergies and asthma.

The book signing is an example of an event that Joseph can attend without worrying about his allergies. I have always championed books and I am so pleased that bookstores like Quail Ridge Books & Music in Raleigh host authors so that kids like Joseph, who love to read, can be inspired. It also is wonderful that the organizers keep it simple and focused on the reason people are there, without adding food into the mix. Joseph and all the other kids just wanted to hear what Lupica had to say. Nobody was thinking about snacks while they were hanging on every word to gain insight about the new book's characters.

Joseph was thrilled to meet an author who has already given him joy through his stories and perhaps, a bit of a boost about the honor in dealing with some of life's challenges.

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