The past 18 months have been difficult for 8-year-old Heidi VanSumeren of Michigan. In March, 2015, her 11-year-old sister Avery died. Avery had been allergic to cats, and Heidi always wanted one, so in December, 2015, Santa brought Heidi a kitty. Three months later the VanSumeren's home burned down, and the cat did not survive the fire. Heidi's mom, Beth VanSumeren, was fearful Heidi would give up hope. Heidi loved books, and lost her entire collection in the fire. Two days after the blaze, she returned to Parma Elementary School in time to see visiting author Bob Shea make a presentation. At the end of his talk, he calls on a student to assist him, and he selected Heidi. He made her feel important, and she loved it. Later that day, the teacher thanked Shea and told him how Heidi lost all her books and her writing desk in the fire. That broke Shea's heart, so he tweeted some fellow authors and illustrators to see if they could help. That's when, according to a third grade teacher at the school, "Twitter exploded."
Within 48 hours, 150 books, with personal notes from the authors, arrived at the school for Heidi. So far, more than 300 have been received, along with art supplies, gift cards, stuffed animals and books for Heidi's older sister Hannah, who is in junior high. And where will Heidi read all these new books? A librarian in Montana raised enough money to send her a new desk, chair and bookshelf from Pottery Barn. Because of all the support she's received in school, Heidi now hopes to be a teacher when she grows up.