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On the second floor, the line stretches outside the door, and scholars just beyond the frame lean in and scramble to catch the attention of their librarian, Ms. Vanessa Nutter as she searches for more copies of Mosquitoland and Kids of Appetite. The ones she had on hand, including the copies that made up the display in the front of the library, were swiftly grabbed from the shelf.
It was a Friday afternoon which means 1 p.m. dismissal for the scholars at Democracy Prep Endurance Middle School, but many of the 7th graders delayed their walk and rides home for a trip to the school library to meet author, David Arnold who stopped by DPEMS as part of his book tour for the newly released, Kids of Appetite.
“I am always thrilled to have authors visit our school,” said Ms. Nutter. “I want them to know how cool our kids are and to imagine them when writing their books. We have a strong culture of reading at DPEMS and it is not a stretch to say that authors are our rockstars.”
Before hosting the impromptu book signing, Arnold addressed the 7th-grade class as the star of a special town hall. He recounted his life story via Power Point with the sections neatly divided by the books and characters that influenced him along his journey from a preschool teacher determined to make it as a saxophone player, to a successful YA fiction author.
“When things are easy, you aren’t challenged,” Arnold said to the auditorium of scholars. “Pain makes us who we are.”
This is a theme he has incorporated into both of his novels. His first book, Mosquitoland, features a teenage heroine who runs away from her new home in Jackson, Mississippi in search of answers about the mother she left behind in Ashland, Ohio, and Kids of Appetite follows a group of teenage orphans and misfits as they navigate through precarious positions.
“Mr. Arnold’s talk was so funny and showed that path directions may change and that all of your experiences make you who you are,” said Ms. Nutter. “He presented the notion that overcoming adversity helps to define us.”