On Tuesday, June 2, 2015, local author Al Declercq visited students at Boulan Park and Smith Middle Schools to discuss the true story behind his children's book Bernida: A Michigan Sailing Legend.
Mrs. Chatel applied for and earned this free author visit through the Library of Michigan's annual Michigan Notable Book program. Every year, 20 outstanding fiction and nonfiction books are chosen; they must be written about Michigan or by a Michigan author and published the previous calendar year.
Mr. Declercq began his day at Smith Middle School, where he spoke to Mrs. Ostrowski's and Ms. Hamel's classes. At Boulan Park, he presented to Mrs. Hyska's, Mrs. Jansen's, and Mrs. Kavanagh's classes.
Students learned about the history of the 90-year old boat called Bernida, which won the first Port Huron to Mackinac boat race. Mr. Declercq purchased Bernida after seeing it listed on eBay, and then he renovated it to race in the 2012 Mackinac race. He and his crew of family and friends won not only their division but were the overall winners, despite the age and condition of the boat.
Students asked many questions about sailing, visiting Mackinac, and writing. Mr. Declercq had an inspiring message for his audience about reading and never giving up.
We are so thankful that Mr. Declercq was able to visit us courtesy of the Library of Michigan and the following sponsors: Michigan Department of Education, Michigan Humanities Council, the Library of Michigan Foundation, Meijer, the Michigan Center for the Book, City Pulse Dome, Queue Advertising, and Gennara Photography.
For more information on the Notable Books program and to review prior years’ lists, visit www.michigan.gov/notablebooks. Mrs. Chatel recommends Derek Jeter's middle grade book, The Contract, which made the 2015 Notable Book list and is set in Kalamazoo.
Mrs. Christina Chatel, MLIS
A teacher librarian at Boulan Park and Smith Middle Schools in Troy, Michigan.