“My name is Andrei, and I hate not having all my A.J. books. I am from Ukraine. I learned English from My Weird School (books). Last week, we had to leave Ukraine. I had to leave almost all my books at home. To cross the border into Poland, we had to wait like a million hundred hours in our car. That was no fun at all. But now we are in Krakow. There are castles here, which is cool, but our apartment has no kitchen.” This is taken from Andrei’s short story to his favorite booked author Dan Gutman.

In early March, booked author Dan Gutman began to tell the story of Andrei, a young fan of his My Weird School books. Andrei had to leave Ukraine with his two siblings and parents recently. The family was limited on what they could take, and one of the things left behind was Andrei’s books.

Life changed a lot for Andrei and his siblings. One thing included being homeschooled by their dad. As an assignment, Andrei’s father assigned him the task of writing a chapter of an A.J. book. The result has delighted both author Dan Gutman and his many followers. Andrei has created (to date) three Chapters!

At booked, we believe the power of reading is transformative. What we didn’t expect was to be transformed in return by one of our young readers. Our mission is to help young readers have access to books and the people who write them. In keeping with our values, we were compelled to send Andrei a box of books by Gutman and some beginner readers for his young siblings from other booked authors. Our humble gesture sparked Andrei’s family to do something extraordinary.

The family recently left Poland to stay with their family in Austria. Andrei explains, “Krakow had gotten really crowded with refugees, so today we’re leaving Poland to stay with my daddy’s relatives in Austria. But there’s a problem: we have too many toys. What happened was, so many of my Daddy’s family sent

 us stuff in Poland, now it won’t all fit in our car.”

Remembering how “fun it was to get those A.J. books,” Andrei and his siblings were inspired to box up toys and take them to one of the shelters in Krakow where other refugees were staying. “I felt almost like Santa, giving the LEGO sets to a group of boys. They were happy, and for some strange reason, I was happy, too.”

To read more about Andrei and his family, check out Dan Gutman’s facebook.