Michael Hingson: Speaking With Vision

MHingson_Author Headshot

Michael Hingson, author of Thunder Dog

On November 20, 2013, I had the unexpected honor of meeting author Michael Hingson. I had recently read and reviewed his book, Thunder Dog, and within 24 hours of my review being posted on Teen Voice, Michael Hingson posted a comment!  I was thrilled!  In his comment, Mr. Hingson invited me (and my parents) to his upcoming presentation: Speaking With Vision at Irvine Valley College.

Even though he has been called a hero for surviving the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks in the World Trade Center through the partnership of his guide dog, Roselle, Mr. Hingson focused his speech on his life experiences before and after his terrifying ordeal.

Being completely blind, Mr. Hingson has challenges due to his physical inability to “see” with his eyes. True, this means he is forced to take a different approach to things designed for a sighted world. But this isn’t a disability to him.

Those of us who pre-judge and limit Mr. Hingson when we learn he is blind have the real disabilities. Much to the dismay of his well-meaning neighbors, Mr. Hingson grew up riding a normal two-wheel bicycle around town!  He did this without crashing into objects or running into people.  He rode his bike just like the other kids who were not blind.  How did he do it? Much like dolphins and bats, Mr. Hingson learned that our environment “sounds” different when you pass a solid object or open doorway and that distances can be determined by sound bouncing off objects. He has become an expert at echolocation.

He has also become an expert at determination and having a “can-do” attitude.  His philosophy on life first began by his parents who never believed or treated him as if he was disabled.  Rather than insisting he live in a “safe” environment, they just cautioned him to be careful. Mr. Hingson has never expected or welcomed special treatment.  But he has insisted that he have the same opportunities sighted people have.

Mr. Hingson and his parents don’t spend time worrying about what isn’t in their control (like being blind or being inside the WTC when the hijacked planes hit the Twin Towers). Instead, Mr. Hingson believes we should “focus on things you can [control].  The rest will take care of itself.”

He wholeheartedly believes that “We have to make the decision to use our tools to move forward and progress,” just like the one-word command he gives his guide dogs to signal when he is ready to go:  “Forward.”

During Mr. Hingson’s speech, it was hard to tell he was blind. If he wasn’t talking about his disability (though it’s not really a disability at all), I would’ve forgotten he was blind! This is just another way to show you that Mr. Hingson doesn’t let his blindness drive his life.

After his speech, Mr. Hingson gave me a pre-release copy of his new book aimed towards 8-year-olds and up, Running with Roselle. Running with Roselle is a children’s version of his New York Times bestseller, Thunder Dog.  I will be honored to read and review this book in an upcoming blog!

-Danielle L., 6th grade

Event Recap: Cassandra Clare’s Clockwork Princess Tour

cassandra_clare_mariah_picIn March, authors Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, and Maureen Johnson made a stop at the Mission Viejo Library for Clare’s latest release, Clockwork Princess.

I was extremely thrilled to meet all of them, and the feeling was definitely echoed throughout the room. As we waited for the authors to arrive (they got caught up in LA traffic), we watched the book and the movie trailer, and in two contests, fans competed for posters of, Will and Jem, popular characters from Clare’s books.

Once the authors arrived, they jumped right into answering our questions about their books and the upcoming City of Bones film.

Here are a couple of them:

Cassandra Clare, where did you get the inspiration for your books?

She got the idea of Shadowhunter from one of her friends who was a tattoo artist and talked to her about the history about tattoos. They were believed to give people strength in battle and during journeys, and Clare thought that it would be cool if there was a race of people for whom these tattoos would actually work.

What characters are the three of you most like?

After thinking the question over for a moment, they agreed that Sarah is like Magnus Bane because of her fiery personality, Maureen is the most similar to Alec, and Cassie was compared to Jace because of her ability to “have a little faith” like he does in times of trouble.

They then moved on to lightning round:

Who do you like more: Tessa or Clary?

She couldn’t decide between the two. Tessa is more like her, but she admires Clary for her bravery and recklessness.

Do you all eat, or do you survive solely on the tears of your readers? (This seemed to be a recurring question.)

Clare responded by saying that she likes to take the hearts of her readers and put it in a cocktail glass and make a heartini.

How much involvement do you, Cassie, have in the film adaptation?

She has had a good amount of input into the film. She answered questions that the production team had, and she had a heavy involvement in the casting process.

Once the Q&A session was complete, we were able to get our books signed! Overall, the event was one of the best signing that I’ve attended. All three of the authors were incredibly funny and kept me laughing the entire night. They joked about the ways they toy with our emotions and all of the wonderful boys in the Infernal Devices and Mortal Instruments series. It was an honor to meet all three of the authors, and I want to thank them for visiting Mission Viejo.

-Mariah W., 11th grade

Book Review: Golden, by Jessi Kirby

golden_coverDo you often find yourself wondering, what if? What if I would have done that instead? What if I would’ve taken the risk?

Jessi Kirby’s latest novel, Golden, which hits bookstores everywhere on May 14, explores these questions and more.

After I read about Parker Frost and her journey to discover not only what happened with the town’s golden couple that died in an accident ten years ago, but also what she truly wants for herself, I felt like I really understood Parker. It amazed me how Jessi Kirby found words to paint such a realistic world. I could visualize everything and really put myself in the situation, almost shedding a tear or two in some instances. And, the connections Kirby creates with Robert Frost and his work throughout the novel was really cool because it made the book more unique and added layers to it.

But maybe, it is because I completely relate to Parker, her goals, and the way she has led her whole life that I really loved this book. The story revolves around a journal that Parker finds that leads her to making choices that she never might have had the courage to make otherwise. Yet there was so much more to the book than a girl breaking out of her shell; I felt that I learned so much from conclusions that Parker makes. Jessi Kirby eloquently states the things that we already know but ignore or are too afraid to state sometimes.

Two of my favorite quotes are:

“People always put their own spin on things, remember what they want to remember, and somewhere in the middle of it all is the truth – the real version – one you could only write yourself if you were willing to.” (p. 33)

“…chance brought them together and choice made them stay.” (p. 108)

The way I was able to get wrapped up in the book made it impossible for me to set aside. I was sad it was over so soon. So, if you are looking for something quick and worthwhile to read, Golden should definitely be on the top of your list! And if you love plot twists as much as I do, the end will definitely catch you off guard. Enjoy!

-Liliana M., 12th grade

Editor’s note:  This review was based on an Advance Readers Copy generously provided by Simon & Schuster.

Don’t miss author Jessi Kirby when she visits Mission Viejo on Saturday, May 18th! As part of the Summer Lovin’ tour, Kirby will speak alongside other popular YA authors, Kimberly Derting, Megan Matson, Shannon Messenger, Sarah Ockler, and Suzanne Young. This exciting event begins at 3:00 pm in the Friends of the Library Storytime Room at 100 Civic Center.

summer_lovin

This free program is sponsored by the Friends of the Mission Viejo Library and A Whale of a Tale Bookshoppe. Books will be available for purchase and signing. For more information or to make a reservation contact the Reference Desk at (949) 830-7100, ext. 5105.

Event Recap: Lauren Oliver’s Requiem Tour

lauren_oliver1

Boy, had I been missing out!

Ever been to a book signing? As surprising as it may be for some people, I had never been to one before. And boy, had I been missing out! But I was lucky enough to have had Lauren Oliver’s book signing at the Mission Viejo Library as my first ever. She was such an engaging speaker, full of funny comments and remarks that created a relaxed and fun vibe during her presentation.

Lauren Oliver started off by telling us about how she became a writer because she has had a “lifelong love of reading.” She explained how ever since she was little, she would read a book, completely fall in love with it, but then sadly it would have to end. (Know the feeling?) So, she would write short stories or sequels about the books she read, which I thought was pretty cool. I had never thought about doing that before. And yet it was interesting to hear that the first time that she wrote a complete novel was not until her senior year in college! Continue reading

Event Recap: Cassandra Clare’s Clockwork Princess Tour

On Friday, March 22, Mission Viejo’s City Hall was taken over by crazed book fans toting around tall stacks of books, sporting Shadowhunter runes, and failing to hide their excitement.

Sarah Rees Brennan, Cassandra Clare, and Maureen Johnson speak to fans in Mission Viejo

Sarah Rees Brennan, Cassandra Clare, and Maureen Johnson speak to fans in Mission Viejo

Authors Cassandra Clare, Maureen Johnson, and Sarah Rees Brennan ran a little late because of the infamous LA traffic, but arrived at the scene with the knowledge that their fans were waiting anxiously. The atmosphere of the room was that of complete awe for Clare’s newly released novel, Clockwork Princess, its book trailer, the trailer for The Mortal Instruments movie, and for the great company of those who love the same story.

The Q&A portion of the event consisted of questions ranging from the creation of Cassandra Clare’s books to the production of the film adaptation of her first novel, City of Bones, releasing in August later this year. Fans were captivated by the stories that Clare told of her childhood. She mentioned that her storytelling past and her first computer at age 12 are what began her book writing career. Clare also discussed her inspiration for the Shadowhunters books: a tattoo artist friend. Clare would hear stories about tattoo symbolism and the people who lived according to them, which sparked her imagination, leading her to the question, “What if there was a race of people whose lives revolved around tattoos and their meanings?” And with that, the Shadowhunters of her novels were born.

Cassandra Clare also gave advice to aspiring writers, saying that there are “many small steps to a large goal.” Also, when asked whether Clare enjoyed “torturing her fans” by destroying their ships, pairings of characters created by the fans, she simply said, “What is the point of a ship if not to sink it?” And with that, the room exploded in uproar and applause.

Clare’s presentation was not one that anyone would regret attending, and being in the company of those who shared the same love only made it a more enjoyable experience. It was an absolute pleasure to have attended, as it was my first author event!

– Danielle G., 11th grade