Dr. Kate and the Big Penny

Our local public library is in the midst of a huge fund-raising effort. 3.2 million dollars to expand and remodel, with the bulk of it going to a new children’s section. Beside the obvious library and reading connection for me, I moved to this town when I was in second grade. The same year that the existing building was opened. We’ve grown up together; it’s one of my all-time favorite places to be. When I go there, even now, it’s like visiting old friends because I always remember how excited I was as a kid to find the next book in Ramona or Anne or Meg or Nancy’s adventures.

So I’ve been wishing I could help them more in their efforts to expand.

Well, a few weeks back, all the schools in the area were contacted to see if they would like to involve their students with raising funds at their school. I thought this was a great idea. Our school already does a lot of community service–and since much of the money will go to improving youth services, this was a great concrete way for our students to see their results. Then I found out that what the public library had in mind. They’re organizing a penny drive called the Big Penny. And I got excited because it was so similar to the manuscript on Dr. Kate Pelham Newcomb that I turned in this summer. Part of Dr. Kate’s story is how the kids in her community collected pennies–eventually from all over the world–and built her a hospital. When I mentioned this to the library board and the head of youth services, they got excited, too. Now it looks like excerpts from my Dr. Kate manuscript will be used to launch the Big Penny in the schools. With permission from my publisher, we are reproducing a chapter (with photos from my Dr. Kate Museum field trip) for school librarians to read aloud and talk up the “power of a penny.” There’s still a lot of details to work out (and some of them are terrifying; I was asked yesterday if I would be willing to be interviewed on the news and Wisconsin public radio), but I’m so happy to be able to help out with this. Who I am today is due in part to our public library. I am the thankful one.