12 year old Julia Fleming, from Arab in Alabama, USA, is an award-winning, intelligent, young woman with a bright future in writing.
Earlier this year Julia won a State Literature title for students in grades 4-6. She surprised her teachers, parents, and friends by entering but not telling a soul when she did! The competition entailed taking a book they’d read and writing a letter to the author of the novel to explain how it impacted their lives. Julia did this without letting on that she is, in fact, legally blind.
Julia explained to WAFF News: “I’m legally blind, which means that I’m not totally blind, but that I was born totally blind,” She told of how she has had artificial cornea transplants to gain her some limited vision.
The book Julia chose to read and reflect upon was Escape From Camp 14 by Blaine Hardin. The book isn’t an easy read; it’s a man named Shin living in shocking conditions in North Korea, and his eventual escape to the west.
The dangerous predicaments people living under the dictatorship in North Korea face touched Julia, and obviously shook her to her core. Speaking to the local news team she said:
“They don’t have a voice because their government is Communist and they can’t talk unless they’re permitted. As Americans, we can’t imagine that. These camps are like concentration camps.”
Her English teacher Mary Anne Crowder speaks highly of Julia and all she has accomplished, “She’s an inspiration to all of us, all that’s she’s been able to accomplish,” she said, “She has never let her disability hold her back”.
Julia takes the praise in her stride, however, and does not see herself as an inspirational figure: “Some people say that I inspire people. That’s great, but it’s not my life goal to inspire people”.
She is now in the running for the national title in the literature contest and if she is successful, Julia will be the first student from Alabama to win.
As well as being an award winning student, Julia has recently published her first book. Called Seymour the Snake it is all about a visually impaired snake and follows him on his adventures, trying to find something to help him see a bit better…
“I think I wanted something a little like me. That’s why it’s called Seymour The Snake.” See more.
Julia, despite not feeling the need to be an inspiration, aims high in her aspirations. Speaking to her local news team she said she would prefer a career as a judge, or owning a big company like Apple, “or being President…”, she says, “There’re some jobs that aren’t exactly the safest for a blind person to do, like being a pilot, but there’re so many things that you can do.”
We wish her the best of luck in all she does, and look forward to more of her work in the future.
Charlotte Westgate, a local resident, said she saw a man in his 20s adding “Gotham City” to a sign on Friday: “He was on his own, and didn’t seem worried that anyone might be looking at him, but no one driving past did anything to stop him.”
Although technically considered ‘vandalism’ and ‘a distraction to drivers’, book lovers everywhere are amused by the signs pointing them towards Narnia or the Emerald City.
A statement said: “We will investigate as soon as the weather improves. While on the surface amusing, it is vandalism and a potential distraction for drivers.”
To Kill a Mockingbird is an iconic text, exploring race relations in the Deep South. For years it’s been a pivotal text used by schools, but we heard little about the author. Deeply private, Harper Lee preferred to stay out of the limelight but since her death it seems her estate has been rarely out of the news.
One woman from the UK discovered the perfect response when she was aboard a bus in her city. As the bus was very crowded, tempers were a little frayed, and one man allowed his aggression to get the better of him. Instead of asking the woman to keep her elbows in or tuck her book in a bit to make more room for others, he instead decided it was appropriate to call her a “fucking bitch”.
What book lover Jennifer Cairns did next was fantastically appropriate and a wonderfully gracious- she started reading aloud.
“How To Stop Time” by Matt Haig is the story of Tom Hazzard, who looks like an ordinary 41 year old, but due to a rare condition, he has been alive for hundreds of years. During these long centuries he has performed with Shakespeare, sailed to far off “new” lands with Captain Cook, and met and shared cocktails with The Fitzgeralds. Read More
The article in question mocked students who studied Frankenstein, who had correctly reflected on how the monster created by Dr Frankenstein was a misunderstood and sympathetic figure. A screenshot of the ignorant Tweet was saved (see right). Their article and the Tweet promoting it have since been deleted, but not before it was roundly trolled by those of us who had dared to read the book and understand its themes.
Sixteen books were picked for the longlist by the judging panel, honouring both new and well-established writers, including six debut novels.
The Chair of the Judges is Sarah Sands, Editor of BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme who said:
“The longlist came out of a Chequers style meeting where different views were accommodated and peace reigned, at least for now. What is striking about the list, apart from the wealth of talent, is that women writers refuse to be pigeon-holed. We have searing social realism, adventure, comedy, poetic truths, ingenious plots and unforgettable characters. Women of the world are a literary force to be reckoned with.”