Last month on a beach in Hawaii, I met a fellow grandma named Susie. She has a granddaughter, Hannah, back in Wisconsin. Turns out Hannah’s class was just then reading my book, Zelda and Ivy The Runaways. What a coincidence! Before the week was out, Hannah’s teacher Jaime Charnholm and I set a date so I could meet the class over the internet, using Google Chat.
(The class is following a Lucy Calkins reading program that uses my book as one of its teaching texts, which are read aloud or as shared reading to model effective reading strategies.)
Here was my view of Hannah’s first grade classroom at West Middleton Elementary, Verona, Wisconsin, where the kids told me it was cold!
Using my laptop’s camera, I walked into my studio and showed the kids my computers, monitors and Wacom tablet, and paints and palettes and brushes, shelves of books and the light table, the stack of books that I have authored and/or illustrated, Izzi the dog and her dogbed, and my cozy writing chair.
The students sent charming thank you notes. I love their colorful drawings and creative spelling.
Who wouldn’t like to be proclaimed “the best ather in the wrld”? Also, I loved hearing that I inspired Paul to write a book.
The first chapter in Zelda and Ivy the Runaways gets going because Dad is making cucumber sandwiches for lunch (again!). The Fox sisters decide they can’t face it and run away.
Although not many of the kids said they have actually eaten cucumber sandwiches, they were great at drawing them.
You can see what the kids remember about our connection by taking a look at their thank-you notes. The story I told about my first grade boyfriend, Danny, who is the basis for Eugene in Zelda and Ivy and The Boy Next Door, seemed to strike a chord. As did our dog, Izzi, and my paint palette.
My Fox sisters are surely thrilled at the many portraits Mrs. Charnholm’s first graders included in their thank you notes.
more portraits —
I feel lucky for all these connections: to have met Susie, which led to meeting the adorable, creative, wonderful kids in Hannah’s class. I answered most of the kids’ questions about the making of Zelda and Ivy, with this exception: How much paper does it take to make your books? Good question! Anyone out there know the average amount of paper it takes to print a picture book?
I smile every time I think of the first graders in West Middleton Elementary. Thank you, each and every one, for your wonderful letters. And thank you, teacher Jaime Charnholm and Hannah’s mom, Nicole, for making the technology work on the Wisconsin end.
I love when technology makes the world as small as the lawn above Napili Beach.