Our morning began with the very entertaining Rachel Vail, author of over 30 books for children and young adults and the most recently published book Unfriended. Funny and warm, Rachel was ready for our five classes of students to jump right in with questions.
Our very curious students wanted to learn more about how long it takes to write a book, where she finds ideas for her writing, and even the age of her children. Rachel's humor and enthusiasm certainly kept our students engaged and entertained during our 45 minutes together.
Next, we met with new YA author Stacey Lee. Stacey's debut novel Under a Painted Sky is a unique piece of historical fiction that tells the story of two girls who head West in the year 1849 to escape from two difficult situations. Stacey was eager to tell students more about her background and her road to publishing. After many failed guesses, students were not able to come close to figuring out that she revised her book over 600 times before it was finally published. Stacey also wowed our students by showing us an edited page from her original manuscript; this page was almost completely covered in red penned comments and edits. Even professional writers have to revise constantly.
Monday's Skype visits ended with author Danette Vigilante, writer of The Trouble with Half a Moon and Saving Baby Doe. After sharing a bit about herself, Danette read aloud the first chapter of The Trouble with Half a Moon. Students learned about how Danette went from being labeled a poor reader as a child to a professional writer. They also heard more about how Danette's past inspired some of the story that eventually became The Trouble with Half a Moon.
I am always in awe of authors who will take time out of their busy schedules to meet with kids, share their stories, and ultimately inspire them to grow as readers and writers. DPMS is especially lucky that all 8th grade students had the opportunity to make such meaningful connections. A special thank you goes out to Melinda at Penguin Publishing who worked her magic to match all of our students up with these fantastic authors. Thank you especially to Rachel, Stacey, and Danette for sharing your important stories and showing our young readers that their voices are important and do matter.