Author’s Message: “Never Give Up”

Author’s Message: “Never Give Up”
Posted on 02/20/2020
Author Dan Gemeinhart with NBJH students

Teachers work everyday to inspire their students to learn, be curious and work hard. Sometimes an outside voice offering those same ideals can be a really big boost. Such was the case Feb. 19 and 20 when children’s author Dan Gemeinhart shared with students his work and his challenges.

Gemeinhart has published five chapter books for middle grades: “The Honest Truth,” “Scar Island,” “Some Kind of Courage,” “Good Dog,” and “The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise.” He visited with students in 4th-7th grades at all four Northbrook District 28 schools on February 19 and 20 and signed books afterward.

“My main message is about not giving up,” Mr. Gemeinhart said, who lives with his wife, three daughters and the ‘best dog in the whole world’ in Washington state. “If something really matters to you, keep working and keep trying. You may not succeed the first try or second try but you have to have that toughness, that grit, to keep working hard to finally make that dream come true.”

Author Dan Gemeinhart encourages students to never give up at Westmoor School.

The author uses his personal experience as example: he wrote books for 10 years while working as a school librarian before he was finally published. He tells students his first efforts were awful. But he kept trying. It wasn’t so much talent as hard work that got him to where he is today, he said. He is nearing completion of his fifth book and is thinking of new projects, including a graphic novel and a picture book.

Students at each school prepared for his visit in different ways. Westmoor School held a “battle of the Gemeinhart books” to challenge students’ knowledge of his books. At Northbrook Junior High, the student library advisory committee created a photo scene replicating the cover of his newest book. At Meadowbrook School, students were challenged to write a letter to him telling how one of his books affected them personally.

One Meadowbrook student wrote, “I know that everyone should read ‘The Honest Truth’ because people need to know that challenges are only fears and fears can be overcome.”

His books mix adventure with very emotional situations, said Monica Benz, Meadowbrook librarian. That’s precisely the mix Mr. Gemeinhart is striving for.

“I try to make my stories a good mix of action adventure but also deep emotion – the crunchy and the chewy.  I try to have a little bit of something for everybody - to make it exciting, interesting and satisfying but also emotional to make (the reader) enjoy the story but also think big things and feel big things.”

The school librarians work as a team to select and plan for at least one visiting author each year.

Author visits provide readers a window into the world of the books they love, and the authors who write them. The students want to know what inspired the story, how it connects with the author's life, and what the writing process is like for a professional author. It is tremendous validation for them as writers, especially when they learn that "real" authors go through all the same feelings and struggles that they do as writers,” they wrote. 


Emma Silshtut, Jane Luedtke, and Caitlin Schuster pose with author Dan Gemeinhart.

Emma Silshtut, Jane Luedtke, and Caitlin Schuster pose with author Dan Gemeinhart in the 3D recreation of the cover of his latest book, “The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise.” Students in the library advisory committee created the backdrop for his visit Feb. 19 at Northbrook Junior High.