By Lauren Saslow

On Saturday, December 12, Randall Middle School (RMS) will hold their annual Book Fair at Barnes & Noble Brandon Square, located at 122 Brandon Town Center Dr., from 10 a.m.–2 p.m. The RMS band and orchestra will have mini-performances and there will be gift-wrapping, a craft table, storytelling and a visit from Santa Claus.

Seventh grade language arts teacher at Randall, Maria DeVivo, who has published two young adult (YA) books, will also be present to sign copies of her 2012 book, The Coal Elf. DeVivo described this YA fantasy as a, “twisted version of the Christmas story.” The Rise of Sturd (projected for e-book release on Saturday, December 5 and later in print on Tuesday, December 15) is a slightly darker and more mature sequel, but still appropriate for most middle and high school students. Both the RMS and Newsome High School media centers already carry the The Coal Elf.

“It’s a fun family event with a percentage of all Barnes & Noble book sales and select merchandise supporting the Randall Literacy Program,” DeVivo explained. The Literacy Program, managed by RMS Reading Coach, Jill Horner, benefits all students and teachers in the school. Horner observes teachers in all disciplines (including math) and provides feedback on how they can utilize particular reading strategies. She also works one on one with students to motivate them and set personal goals.

“At the middle school level, students tend to lose interest in reading for pleasure, and Ms. Horner really does a fabulous job of helping the children stay into it,” DeVivo expressed.

DeVivo, originally from New York and now a FishHawk resident, earned her Bachelor’s in English literature from St. John’s University and has been teaching since 2000. She has been a self-professed “Santa-phile” since age 7 when her mother revealed the truth about St. Nicholas. This combined with her affinity toward the “dark and demented” became the source of inspiration for her soon-to-be trilogy.

DeVivo’s “Day of Double DeVivo” will continue at Bloomingdale Public Library from 2–4 p.m. She will read excerpts, offer a discussion of writing and the publishing process, and have T-shirts on sale.

Both books will be available online at, and in select Barnes & Noble stores. For more information about DeVivo, visit

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