Lisa's Story: The Other Shoe by Tom Batiuk (rhymes with "attic"), has been selected as the featured read of the One Book One Community program for 2014-15, according to the organization's executive committee.
The book's unique format is a collection of the author's comic strips featuring Lisa Moore, a main character and best friend of Funky Winkerbean, who battles an initial diagnosis of breast cancer and a subsequent recurrence. The book also contains resource material on breast cancer, including early detection, information sources, support systems and health care.
Batiuk, who is a cancer survivor, is the creator of the comic strips Funky Winkerbean and Crankshaft. He decided to approach the topic of cancer by mixing humor with serious and true-to-life themes involving a main character.
Lisa's Story: The Other Shoe was selected among dozens of books that were nominated by members of the Alliance community, according to Pat Stone, director of Rodman Public Library, who chairs the committee.
"This is the twelfth year of One Book One Community in the Alliance area, and we are always looking for a book with broad appeal and combining the selection with the availability of the author," Stone said. "With Lisa's Story: The Other Shoe we have a book that is quite different from our past selections but provides readers with a combination of elements that will no doubt prompt community discussions."
Stone said the programming leading to the author's appearance will begin Tuesday, January 20, 2015 at 7 p.m. in the auditorium of Rodman Public Library. On that day, two Alliance High School teachers, Jim Christine and Ron Hill will be sharing how a graphic novel is developed and constructed. Further programming is still being determined, according to Stone.
Batiuk has committed to appearing in Alliance on March 26 at 7 p.m. in the Giese Performing Arts Center at the University of Mount Union. He will also be visiting area high schools the following day.
The selected books for the past 10 years for the Alliance area have been The Color of Water by James McBride, Riding the Bus with My Sister by Rachel Simon, Real Time by Pnina Moed-Kass, Beyond the River by Ann Hagedorn, Plenty by Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon, Blood Done Sign My Name by Timothy Tyson, Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson, Make the Impossible Possible by Bill Strickland, One Amazing Thing by Chitra Divakaruni, Thunder Dog by Michael Hingson, and The Essay by Robin Yocum.
Batiuk spent several years as a high school teacher before creating "Funky Winkerbean," which is distributed by King Features Syndicate to more than 400 newspapers nationwide. He worked on each "Lisa's Story" story line for about four years, which he says allowed him time to do the research, writing and rewriting that such a complex subject required.
"Funky Winkerbean" began in 1972 as a laugh-a-day look at high school life and has matured into a series of real-life stories. Batiuk's groundbreaking stories have placed him at the forefront of a new comic-strip genre, "narrative humor."
Batiuk has won numerous accolades and awards from his peers, educators, professional organizations and civic groups across the country. In 1999, the Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center presented Batiuk with the "Jonquil," an award presented to distinguished individuals who have made significant contributions in the fight against breast cancer. In 2005, Batiuk was inducted into the Cancer Care Hall of Fame by the American Cancer Society for "Lisa's Story."
In addition to "Funky Winkerbean," Batiuk also created the strips "John Darling," which ran from 1979-1991, and "Crankshaft," which launched in 1987 and still appears in nearly 300 newspapers. Batiuk lives in Medina, Ohio, with his wife Cathy, who is a teacher, and their son, Brian.
"We would not have the opportunity to bring the author to Alliance if not for the resources provided by our partners, including The Friends of Rodman Public Library, University of Mount Union, The Greater Alliance Foundation and The Review," Stone said. "We are also pleased to report that a number of teachers in area schools have committed to teaching from the book."
Lisa's Story: The Other Shoe, is available at the University Bookstore and Rodman Public Library. The cost of each book is $10. Several copies also will be available for checkout at Rodman Public Library and the University of Mount Union Library.