Cynthea Liu and her laptop,
with her fundraising auction on-screen.

Children’s author Cynthea Liu believes in putting her money where her mouth is. And she’s succeeded in encouraging others to put their money down for a good cause. To the tune of $15,000 and counting, in fact.

Liu, a native of Oklahoma and the author of The Great Call of China (Speak, 2009), launched her second book for middle-grade readers, Paris Pan Takes the Dare (Putnam, June), with an online "slumber party," featuring an auction to benefit Tulakes Elementary, a Title I school in an impoverished and crime-ridden area in Oklahoma City.

The fundraiser, which ran from June 11 to July 8, was called "Take the Dare: Show That You Care," and raised $15,000, with additional funds expected as donors give books and money directly to Tulakes after the auction's end. Items up for auction included manuscript critiques, autographed items, and virtual visits, all donated by more than 40 children's and YA professionals—authors, editors and agents. All funds raised will support reading and writing initiatives at Tulakes, as these programs have been adversely affected by school budget cuts.

"Every $3.25 you contribute is one book box for a kid at Tulakes," Liu writes on her Web site. "Better yet, every $70 gets Tulakes 10% closer to supplying a classroom set of leveled readers for their second-graders!"

This isn’t the first time Liu has worked with book professionals to create a literary community that benefits others. Liu is the founder of two Web sites: AuthorsNow!, a collaboration of debut children’s and YA book authors and authors groups; and Writing for Children and Teens, which offers free advice and critiques for aspiring authors.

Liu is also sponsoring a "Paris Pan Takes the Dare" essay contest for students in grades 3—7 (including home-schooled students) in the U.S. and Canada.

Paris Pan Takes the Dare

by Cynthea Liu. Putnam, $16.99 ISBN 978-0-399-25043-9