Michelle Jabès Corpora had known since she was five that she wanted to be a writer. And as she got older and grew up, nothing changed but her love of middle-class books.
“The middle class is just a pure form of a children’s book,” Corpora said.
She is celebrating the release of her middle school book on July 10th, in partnership with Gentle Giants Draft Horse Rescue and The Last Word, a Mount Airy bookstore. The book launch takes place at the Rescue in Mount Airy, with horses, food and fun for all ages. Corpora will also sign books and read excerpts from them.
American Horse Tales: The Dust Bowl is the first in a series of authors who investigate the relationships between girls and their horses. According to Penguin Young Readers, the series focuses on diversifying characters beyond the traditional East Coast equestrian academies narrative to present the stories of young heroes from all over the US and from all different time periods.
The special thing about “The Dust Bowl” for Corpora is that it is their first middle-class book published under their name in the United States. She has written a popular middle-class mystery series and published another book under her name later that year, but exclusively in the UK. She has also done other freelance work for Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing.
In 2019, Penguin Random House, the series’ publisher, reached out to Corpora about a deal negotiated by Corpora’s literary agents and asked her to do a series: Write a story about a girl and her horse. She had creative control over the rest of the story.
And so Ginny and her horse Thimble were born. Your adventure takes place during the Great Depression. To help the family, Ginny’s father tells them they have to sell Thimble. Determined to make sure she and Thimble don’t get separated, Ginny heads from Oklahoma to California so she and Thimble can stay together and avoid Thimble being sold.
As Corpora wrote and researched its story, the COVID-19 pandemic struck. She noticed the parallels between the Great Depression and Ginny’s situation with the global pandemic: the struggles, the things that keep people from moving forward, but also the hope of getting out of a difficult situation. As an author, she felt she had a certain responsibility to make these complex feelings and ideas understandable for young minds.
“[The story] really felt like the right thing at the right time because we were going through this extremely difficult period in our nation’s history that was unprecedented, ”she said.
When the talks about book release came up, Corpora, who lives in New Market, thought it was a great idea to promote the book to a local horse rescue for a mutually beneficial partnership: your book would advertise and the rescue would raise awareness for their cause. In search of a horse rescue, she fell in love with the name of rescue, Gentle Giants, because of her love for draft horses.
Gentle Giants Draft Horse Rescue in Mount Airy saves draft horses from slaughter, abuse and neglect. They currently have 108 horses on their 235-acre property, according to Adria Strausbaugh, community director for Gentle Giants. Among them are Dapper, a shy ex-Amish workhorse who loves belly rubs; Honey Badger, the friendly mule who always wants to be the center of attention; and Harlem, a retired New York carriage horse and one of the star horses of the rescue.
Strausbaugh said one of the goals of the rescue is to get more involved with the local community, and the book launch is a fun and unexpected way to take action and advance your mission.
“This is just a great way to open our doors now that things are opening up and bring people here to just celebrate something fun and make a day out of it,” said Strausbaugh.
Corpora also reached out to The Last Word bookstore owner Erin Matthews to help advance the idea of bringing together and supporting local organizations and businesses. Matthews was happy to attend the event. The bookstore is big on animal rescue and the mix of the local component is great, she said. They will sell copies of the book at and after the book launch.
“I think it’s going to be a really great event to bring together many different parts of the Mount Airy community,” said Matthews.
Follow Clara Niel on Twitter: @clarasniel
Follow Clara Niel on Twitter: @clarasniel