May 12, 2014
-- As the ice thaws and the mercury climbs, children nationwide anticipate a nice vacation. America’s young have always loved summer. During these halcyon months, joyful teens enjoy a respite from academic pressures and relish the opportunity to swim, hit baseballs, visit museums, read, fish, spend time with family, travel, or just bask in the sunshine. Today, students have yet another reason to celebrate: hundreds of at-risk kids will receive a gift from Tuscany Press’ best-selling author, David Beckett.
To promote youth literacy and summer reading, Tuscany and Beckett are distributing copies of the award-winning thriller The Cana Mystery. Members of the website Goodreads.com voted The Cana Mystery No. 3 on their list of “Best Books for Intelligent Teens,” just behind bestsellers from J.K. Rowling and Louisa May Alcott. Beckett acknowledged that the book’s impressive ranking helped motivate his publisher to act. “Peter [Mongeau, President of Tuscany Press] was excited, eager to explore the possibility of doing something positive for young readers.” The result is a multi-stage plan that gets Beckett’s internationally-
acclaimed adventure into the hands of children from disadvantaged homes and communities. “Tuscany knows some kids can’t pay $25 for a hardcover at Barnes and Noble or at an independent bookstore. Sure, ebooks are cheaper, but not all families can afford Kindles or Nooks.” San Antonio City Manager Eric Walsh said, “Public libraries do a fantastic job, making classic literature accessible to disadvantaged families. Of course, with budget constraints, the library can’t provide three hundred copies of the most popular, in-demand novels.” Consequently, borrowers hoping to check out The Cana Mystery face a very long wait. Tuscany hopes its initiative will improve
the situation. “Phase One” involves creating access to “massively-
discounted” ebooks for the at-risk community, Beckett said. It will execute “sometime this month” because, “when school ends, kids start singing ‘no more teachers, no more books’ or however that song goes. It’s imperative to make summer reading materials available now, either free or at an 80-90 percent discount, before the final school bell rings.” Phase Two, tentatively scheduled for July, entails delivering an additional number of paperbacks to children through libraries, churches, synagogues, or other community originations.
The Cana Mystery, an intellectual, history-based thriller akin to The Da Vinci Code and Raiders of the Lost Ark, rose from obscurity to prominence when it became Amazon’s most popular Kindle download last October. As single-time parent Mai Hwang remarked, “We’re grateful for any book with age-appropriate content, but it’s wonderful to get one from a respected, award-winning author. I look forward to reading it myself.” A school district representative added, “Parents have been quite receptive to [Beckett’s]
work, in part because it contains no explicit sex or bad language.” This summer’s giveaway is not the first time Tuscany Press has contributed to community literacy. Over the last 4 months, Beckett confirmed, Tuscany Press writers provided several hundred dollars worth of free paperbacks to public and private school libraries throughout Texas and Arizona.