I want to send a shout-out to Elior, our demigod of the week from Israel. Elior emailed several months ago after he finished The Lightning Thief. He told me he was having trouble finding The Sea of Monsters, because most of the bookstores in Israel carry a limited supply of children’s fantasy in English, and he prefers English to reading Hebrew. (So far, Percy Jackson is not available in Hebrew).
Three weeks ago, during the most recent surge in fighting, Elior wrote again and told me that things were really tense in his hometown, which is very close to the Gaza Strip. His family was dealing with the threat of rocket attacks, it was difficult to travel, and the only thing that gave Elior a sense of normalcy was being able to escape into a book. He was basically stuck with Harry Potter, because that’s all that was available, and he still hadn’t been able to find The Sea of Monsters.
His letter was so moving, I made arrangements to send two copies of The Sea of Monsters to his hometown – one for Elior and one for his school library. I wasn’t sure when the books would arrive, if they would arrive at all, but within a week Elior wrote back to tell me the books had made it safely and he was already halfway through.
As I told Elior, the conflict in the Middle East is always very much on my mind. I pray daily for those affected by the violence on both sides of the Israeli border. There is too much tragedy and too much suffering. I wish I saw an end in sight, but the situation is so complicated and the resentment is so deep. In the meantime, my best wishes go out to all the children who are caught in the middle of the conflict, and I hope each of them can at least find solace in a good book. Stay safe, Elior, and keep reading!