PIRATES READ/WORLD READ ALOUD DAY, a K-8 event that features authors reading to students and answering questions will be held this coming Monday, February 1. It’s a Zoom event and I’ll be greeting my assigned students from Florida with this curtain behind me.
PIRATES READ is created by Park University in Parkville, Missouri, not far from Kansas City. I’m glad to be invited back to the event, now in it’s third year, by director, KATHY HOWE.
Today I’m putting some final touches on my virtual program for tomorrow morning as part of Park University’s “Pirates Read” event. I’ve chosen to discuss and read one of my very first books for children, LITTLE TURTLE’S BIG ADVENTURE, which was published by Random House in 1969, the same year THE BOY WITH A DRUM came out. It makes a good read aloud because it’s about a small turtle that loses its home to road construction and must set out in search of a new place to live. Mr. Green Jeans read it on Captain Kangaroo’s TV show the year it was released. I think it’s time to bring it back.
I remember a day after the book was published when I made one of my first of what became an annual visit to New York to meet with editors, and I went by Random House. In those days their headquarters were in an ornate old building, can’t remember the address, but it was a great place to visit. Bennett Cerf was still publisher but died a couple of years after my book came out. His son Chris was there, editor to Ted Geisel among others. I met Chris but not Dr. Seuss. My editor got me seated and sent for the young assistant who had picked my story out of the “slush” pile. I had mailed my manuscript without an agent or contact or even a name on the envelope. It was strictly an “over the transom” submission and the odds of it being chosen were like winning the lottery. When the assistant came into the office, she was thrilled to meet me. I was the very first person she had ever “discovered” and to her it was a huge deal. It wasn’t until that moment when I realized how naïve I had been and how very fortunate I was.
I have an event for children (virtual of course, sigh) coming up next month that I’m beginning to think about. It’s a read aloud celebration sponsored by Park University. The idea is to read a story of “perseverance, resilience, hope, love, family, faith, courage, diversity, gratitude, encouragement or whatever (I) think will inspire K-12 students and teachers.” I’m trying to decide which of my stories to read to my group of about 50 1st grade children. If anyone has an old favorite, let me know. So far I’ve considered the following.
DYLAN THE EAGLE-HEARTED CHICKEN, about bravery, overcoming fear to save someone you love
ELOISE AND THE OLD BLUE TRUCK, about friendship, loyalty, and determination
LITTLE TURTLE’S BIG ADVENTURE, about finding the strength to keep trying
PIGGY WIGLET, about daring to dream big and go after your dream
A PERFECT HOME FOR A FAMILY, about searching for a safe place to raise a family
THE SNORING MONSTER, about a father helping his son deal with his nighttime fears
THE GIANT WHO THREW TANTRUMS, about a boy who teaches a giant to control his temper
A good old-fashioned read aloud sounds delightful and I’m eager to do this. I just wish we could all be gathered together for it. Maybe next time.