Here's another in my series of guest posts on the books we read in our youth that stick with us. Today's guest blogger is Ann Malaspina.
The 149-page novel A Single Light (Harper & Row, 1968) by Maia Wojciechowska (winner of the 1965 Newbery Medal for Shadow of a Bull) is one of my reading touchstones. Recently I picked up the worn first edition I’ve had since elementary school and was again swept away by the story of a deaf and mute girl cruelly rejected by her poor rural Spanish village. The story involves faith, mass hysteria, and the need for every person to be loved--all as relevant today as ever. Some critics say the novel is too preachy, or that it falls apart in the second half, and maybe they’re a little bit right, but I still love Wojciechowska’s story-telling and her simply drawn characters. Also, aspiring writers should read A Single Light if only for sentences like this: “Often at night she would close her eyes tight and she would see stars, not as bright as the ones in the sky but bright enough to light up the dark.” Born in Poland in 1927, Wojciechowska and her family escaped the Nazis at the outbreak of World War II. She died in Long Branch, New Jersey, in 2002. Sadly, A Single Light seems to be out of print, but you might be able to find it at the public library.
Ann Malaspina’s latest picture book is Touch the Sky: Alice Coachman, Olympic High Jumper (Albert Whitman & Co., 2012).