Giveaway: Mary Higgins Clark and Local Authors Excite Students to Read

Oliver Conheeney gets a hug from his Grandmother.

WINNER: Congratulations to booklover92

Best-selling mystery writer Mary Higgins Clark is helping Watchung Elementary school hold a successful Read-a-Thon!  This past Monday, Ms. Clark read to Watchung Elementary School first graders, including her grandson Oliver, from her new children’s book, The Magical Christmas Horse. This holiday tale, which was part of our holiday book giveaway, is Clark’s second children’s book and her second collaboration, after Ghost Ship, with painter and illustrator Wendell Minor.

The first grade classes at Watchung Elementary School were impressed when, in the introduction to the author, they learned that she has sold over 100 million books in the United States alone (“Woah!” was the awed response.), and that her words have been translated into as many languages as the children could name – and then some.  They listened attentively as the prolific mystery and suspense writer read from The Magical Christmas Horse, a story about a boy’s wish for his brother at Christmas.

Following the reading, Mary Higgins Clark laughed with the children and answered a variety of questions about the story.  She also listened as a line of excited children took turns sharing their favorite part of the book and telling her what they were giving to others (including their pets) for the holidays.  This was especially appropriate considering the story’s theme of the magic of a heartfelt wish for someone you love.

Ms. Clark graciously signed books for students, teachers, and other audience members.  And when music students came in to the auditorium for their class, she moved to Watchung Elementary’s hallway still signing books and chatting with admirers.  As a family member explained, “Reading and signing books are some of Mary’s favorite things to do.” It showed in her patience and enjoyment of the children and in Ms. Clark’s generosity of time.

Watchung Elementary School is in the midst of a month long Read-a-Thon fund-raiser, which began on November 7th and ends December 9th.  The PTA sponsored Read-a-Thon asks students to keep track of their reading during the month and collect pledges for minutes spend reading.  The incentives (besides the obvious joy of reading!) include prizes for the class that reads the most minutes, and a lottery for students who fill up their Read-a-Thon bookmarks with the titles of books they’ve read.  The PTA hopes to raise money for areas as diverse as art supplies, instrument instruction, and on-going programs such as Wake Up Watchung!

Mary Higgins Clark may be the most famous of the authors to visit Watchung Elementary during the Read-a-Thon, but she’s not alone.  Several local authors and editors have been visiting classrooms to talk about working as writers and in the publishing industry and to read from their own works.  Visiting wordsmiths include Scott BeckD.T. Max, Liz Egan, Kate EganJoyce Raimondo, and Dan Elish.  All are taking part in the month-long celebration of reading.

Scott Beck read from his children’s book Pepito the Brave, and he brought in his notebooks and sketchbooks to demonstrate how a picture book is made.  He loved seeing how eager the children were to show him their drawings as well.  Sisters Kate and Liz Egan gave a presentation to the fifth graders about their work as writers and editors.  Kate edited the wildly popular trilogy The Hunger Games and has a children’s book coming out next year, and Montclair resident Liz is an editor at Self Magazine.

To help promote the love of reading even further, and through the generosity of Simon & Schuster as well as Mary Higgins Clark, we have a signed copy of The Magical Christmas Horse to give away to one lucky reader.

To enter, tell us what children’s book you would write in the comments. Would you re-tell a classic, come up with a new adventure, or tell stories from your own childhood?

One person who replies to this post by 11:59 pm EST by Thursday, December 1, 2011, will be chosen at random to win a signed copy of The Magical Christmas Horse by Mary Higgins Clark. Please post only once.

No purchase necessary. Starts Tuesday, November 29, 2011, 2:30 pm EST and ends Thursday, December 1, 2011, at 11:59 pm. Open to U.S. residents ages 16 years and older. Void where prohibited.

Good luck!

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  1. I would write a new mystery story. One that will get children interested in reading like Mary Higgins Clark’s books did for me.

  2. I would write a book about acceptance. A story that would show children that we should not just tolerate people’s differences, but embrace them.

  3. I would incorporate my love of sports with my love for my son and write about his adventures with a little league team.

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