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February 12, 2005

First Lady Patti Blagojevich launches the Children’s Reading Club
First Lady selects “The Tale of Despereaux” by Kate DiCamillo as February’s featured book

CHICAGO – First Lady Patti Blagojevich today announced the start of the Children’s Reading Club—a recommended reading list made up of books that the First Lady and her daughters enjoy at home.  Mrs. Blagojevich selected The Tale of Despereaux (Copyright 2003) by Kate DiCamillo as February’s featured book.  Each month’s book selection will be featured on the First Lady’s website, http://www.illinois.gov/firstlady
“As a parent, I know the difference reading with your children can make on both their mental and emotional development,” said Mrs. Blagojevich.  “I started this program to encourage parents to read with their children, and I hope our recommended reading list helps parents find books that the whole family can enjoy.”
This month’s selection, The Tale of Despereaux, is a winner of the prestigious Newberry Medal.  The publisher, Candlewick Press, printed the following description of the book on their website:
“Welcome to the story of Despereaux Tilling, a mouse who is in love with music, stories, and a princess named Pea. It is also the story of a rat called Roscuro, who lives in the darkness and covets a world filled with light. And it is the story of Miggery Sow, a slow-witted serving girl who harbors a simple, impossible wish. These three characters are about to embark on a journey that will lead them down into a horrible dungeon, up into a glittering castle, and, ultimately, into each other’s lives. And what happens then? As Kate DiCamillo would say: Reader, it is your destiny to find out.

From the master storyteller who brought us Because of Winn-Dixie comes another classic, a fairy tale full of quirky, unforgettable characters, featuring twenty-four stunning black-and-white illustrations by Timothy Basil Ering, in an elegant design that pays tribute to the best in classic children’s books and bookmaking traditions.”
As First Lady, Patti Blagojevich has worked tirelessly to promote initiatives that help Illinois families bring up happy, healthy, and successful children.  In addition to her work with children’s literacy, the First Lady served on the Department of Children and Family Services Task Force, where she helped create a blueprint to reform the agency.  Mrs. Blagojevich also worked to promote the Prevention Development Resource Project -- a partnership between DCFS and Prevent Child Abuse Illinois -- that links parents with agencies that offer services to those affected by substance abuse and domestic violence, or who need other family support services.  Most recently, the First Lady was honored by ORBIS International for spearheading the Illinois Pediatric Vision Awareness Initiative—the first state sponsored campaign in the U.S. to specifically target amblyopia, or lazy eye, in children. 
Mrs. Blagojevich announced the Children’s Reading Club at a downtown Borders today, where she read a selection from The Tale of Despereaux to local children.


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