Yesterday afternoon it was a pleasure to visit Dawn Licata and her 2nd grade class at David Harrison Elementary School. Dawn is one of the teachers around the country who volunteered to introduce students to classroom activities suggested in the book I’m co-writing with Mary Jo Fresch.
I’m SO pleased to have a Springfield school represented in the book and naturally I’m especially delighted that it will be someone from Harrison Elementary. While I was there Dawn showed me some of the work that her kids have done. I loved it.
I read for a while to Dawn’s students and answered questions. As I was leaving, one boy handed me a letter he had written and illustrated just for me. He thanked me for all the “great books (I) have made to the world” and concluded that I “should be in history.” I liked the first part and appreciated the spirit of the second, but honestly I don’t feel quite ready to be history.
I agreed to start another project yesterday, this one with two other poets. As always, beginnings are exciting and filled with anticipation of challenges ahead. We hope to finish the submission draft by the end of May, which seems reasonable. My current manuscripts in process should be finished or at rest by the end of April so whatever work is left on this new one should be doable in a sprint during May.
For now I’m focusing on two other projects especially. Mary Jo Fresch and I are still waiting for teacher and student input for the book we’re doing for Scholastic. During the Children’s Literature Festival, several teachers took my card so I hope to hear from some of them soon. And I’m well into the revisions for my desert story. I started on Monday and have made good progress this week. If the pace continues, I should finish it before the end of April.
Mary Jo Fresch and I have been at work on a book for classroom teachers for quite some time and have finally arrived at a point where we need to work with some teachers who can provide samples of student writing to go in the book. The target audience is grades 3-6 and the subject is about how to help students prepare to write before they start writing. There are a number of good books in the market about finding ideas, drafting, revising, etc. but few give appropriate space to the importance of researching the subject before writing the first word.
Between us we have a list of teachers to turn to for input and we recently sent them an outline of classroom activities they can try with their students and submit the results for our book. Some of them responded to an earlier call for help so we have their comments and samples in hand. One problem we encounter in situations like this is that teachers plan their year in advance and few of them can rearrange their lessons to accommodate folks outside their classrooms. Our deadline to complete this book is the end of this month. Obviously we won’t hit it, but we need to keep moving.
So this is a call for teachers who like the idea of having their names and samples of their students’ work in a Scholastic book and are in a position to work with us on a quick turnaround basis. If you know of other teachers who might have an interest, please share this with them and urge them to get in touch. We’ll gladly forward an outline of the book with specific activities that we’d like to include. We won’t overload anyone. No teacher should need to tackle more than one or two of them.
I learned yesterday that an artist has been chosen and is already at work on one of my upcoming picture books. I placed the story last September so this is record time. Don’t know the pub date yet but all systems point toward an early release rather than a late one. I love it when that happens!
Another proposal is going to committee next week or the one following so I have my fingers crossed for that one too. It only includes three poems so if they take it I still need to write the manuscript.
I’m trying to decide whether to attend story time in the Burton Barr Library in Phoenix when I’m there. I let them know I was coming several months ago but the first librarian blew me off entirely. Another eventually took over and provided a time and date when I might come by to see my sidewalk when children will be there for story time. Now I can’t get her to respond to what typical age spread and number they usually draw. I’ll be four hours away in Bisbee the night before and don’t relish getting up early enough to make a 10:00 a.m. session if the kids are crawlers and babies in buggies. I’m leaning toward sleeping in and getting to the library later in the day to take a few pictures of the sidewalk.
I will be visiting Ken Slesarik’s school so that will be a highlight. And I’ll be greatly disappointed if I don’t get to see Patricia Hermes. I have other friends in the area and would love to see everyone but I won’t be there many days and will have the pleasure of being with Sandy, Robin, and Jeff.
Later in the day I heard from one of those long lost editors regarding the book with Mary Jo Fresch. I won’t have time to do much tweaking before I get away but it turns out we won’t have all that much to do anyway so I felt better about that.
The new year seems to be off and running. It’s high time. We only have 360 days left!
So far I’ve named my new wagon, with your help (It’s officially BENTLEY. Thank you, Sneed Niederriter), submitted one manuscript, one book proposal, and worked with Mary Jo Fresch to submit a presentation proposal for NCTE in November.
Today I hope to concentrate on another book idea. I’m working on this project with Sandy Asher and we’re in the very early stage of trading ideas and reactions.
I’ll start by making a list of potential subject matter based on a theme and fiddle with that until some sense of it emerges clearly enough that I can draft a poem or two to share with Sandy. This one might or might not get off the ground but you have to start somewhere and this is usually how it works for me.
I don’t know what the rest of this week (today and Friday) will hold, but so far so good.