Obi Acceptance Speech

I have a confession to make.

I know what you're thinking: Oh, no, he has a confession to make? About what? That he stole a book from his elementary school library back when he was in third grade and that, all these years later, he still has the book?

No, no, don't worry. It's nothing like that.

No, my confession is that, well, as an author, I don't usually attend these kinds of things. I don't usually do author events. I don't speak at many schools or libraries or do a lot of book readings and signings at book stores. Not only that, but I'm not too keen about flying so to get on a plane and fly down here from Vermont – which is where I'm from -- well, for me, that's pretty big.

But this is big. It's HUGE! The truth is, nothing would've stopped me from being here today. Not being nervous about flying. Not being nervous about speaking in front of a lot of people. Not even a hurricane!

Well, maybe a hurricane.

But I felt I just had to be here because of all that you have done for my book, OBI, GERBIL ON THE LOOSE! What have you done? Well, for starters, you chose Obi to be one of the books in the 2010-2011 Sunshine State Young Readers Awards. I was flattered that my book was on a list that included some really great titles by some really great authors.

Now, I have to be honest with you, when you selected OBI, GERBIL ON THE LOOSE!, the book was not exactly flying off the shelves. While the novel had come out to pretty positive reviews in 2008, sales had been, well, less than stellar. Needless to say, my publisher was not rushing to bring Obi out in paperback. In fact, I truly expected to hear the dreaded R word that all authors fear – that the book had been remaindered.

But that did not happen. Let me tell you what did happen.

A year ago in August, after you chose Obi, the book briefly made it onto the Barnes and Noble bestseller list for middle grade hard cover books.

In the weeks that followed, Google Alerts began to pop up in my e-mail in-box, alerting me that something had been posted on the Internet about Obi. I began getting Google Alerts for blogs and chat rooms that had been created by school librarians and teachers in Florida.

Kids were saying the most awesome things about Obi in these blogs and chat rooms. In fact, that's one of the words they kept using to describe Obi: "awesome."

I thought I'd died and gone to heaven.

It's a good thing I hadn't died and gone to heaven because if I had I would've missed out on the Google Alert with a link to this really cool book trailer about Obi.

I also would've missed this Jeopardy like game-show in which four of the questions were about Obi. I actually knew the answers to those questions! Authors for 400. "Who's the author of OBI, GERBIL ON THE LOOSE!?" It was me!

And then came the news, last May, that Obi had won!

Now partly because of all this, OBI, GERBIL ON THE LOOSE! is about to come out in paperback.

What's more, there is a new Obi hard cover book coming out this spring. It's titled OBI, GERBIL ON A MISSION! That, too, will eventually appear in paperback. And when it does, there's going to be third Obi book. This one is tentatively titled: OBI, GERBIL ON A SCHOOL TRIP! Spoiler alert: It takes place in a school.

So as you can see, things really have picked up for this little gerbil. So if, over time, you get sick of all these Obi books that are about to come out, well, you have only yourselves to blame. You took a chance on a fairly obscure children's novel by a fairly obscure children's book author and now look what's happened!

As for me, I am incredibly honored and absolutely thrilled and deliriously happy to accept this award for OBI, GERBIL ON THE LOOSE!

Thank you Sunshine State Young Readers Award committee for selecting my book! Thank you, school librarians, for encouraging kids to read – you each deserve a big award for that! Thank you to all the readers of Florida, young and old, who read Obi! And a very special shout-out and thank you to all the children who voted for Obi!

Thanks to all of you, Obi, the Jedi gerbil, lives to be in more adventures!