While doing research for “Where the Sky Doesn’t End,” I learned that the segregated Tuskegee Airmen units included African American ground support personnel – those skilled individuals who kept the airplanes flying day-in and day-out, under the most difficult of circumstances. As the result of that research, I created a character named Mr. Washington, who served as one of those mechanics. He’s a hero in many ways – both in service to his country and later as a friend and mentor to the book’s protagonist, Brendan.

I think we can all agree that making the transition from adolescence to adulthood is difficult for most of us, and Mr. Washington’s character illustrates how we can all be heroes to our children throughout their lives – especially through those challenging, coming-of-age years. As teachers or librarians you are undoubtedly a mentor to countless young people, even though it’s likely you’ll never hear direct words of thanks from those you mentor.

So on behalf of all of those young people who may never tell you, please allow me to say “Thank you!” for caring and teaching, and yes, loving.

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