Wednesday, January 25, 2012

This is a dream, right?

Wide eyes in all shapes, sizes and colors, big smiles (some with missing teeth), listening ears eagerly awaiting the first word, and a touch of awe at meeting an author.  That's what I witnessed last week as each class entered the Sacred Hearts Academy Lower School Library.  It was a week I will never forget!

The excitement had been building for me since November when Ms. Taylor, the Lower School Librarian, and I began making plans for my first school visit.  My daughter is a senior at that very special school where students and their families feel a genuine love. I figured that if I made any mistakes there, I would be among family and friends. They would surely forgive me, hug me, and help me get back on my feet. 

Even knowing that, I wasn't sure what to expect and, I have to admit, I was a bit nervous. Is my book good enough? Will the students laugh at the funny parts? Are there actually funny parts, or am I imagining the whole thing? Is the story right for their grade and reading level? Am I a good read-aloud reader? Is that "so-so" review I received a few days ago right? What was I thinking?

Finally, the day arrived. No more time to ask questions I couldn't answer.

As I walked into the school office to sign-in and get a visitor's pass, Ms. Ching greeted me with open arms. She had actually been expecting me and was just as excited about me being there as I was. What a great way to start the day! She showed me to the library where I met Ms. Taylor and Ms. Maggini-Mackay, the Library Assistant. Smiles and hugs came my way! I thought that maybe we should just stop right there. It couldn't possibly get any better than that. 

My nerves returned for a split second. Again, I questioned myself, my book, my being there.

Then, Ms. Taylor told me how much she and the children had enjoyed my book. The students had been engaged in the story and had laughed in all the right places.

I asked myself, "This is a dream, right?"

Well, yes, it was a dream. Not a black-and-white, fuzzy dream whose details escape you as soon as you awake, but a full-color, every-detail-etched-in-your-mind-forever kind of dream.

I read A Reel Cool Summer to six classes of smart, sweet, curious, silly, beautiful girls in three days. They listened carefully to the story, making mental notes of each detail. They laughed out loud as the characters in the book did, and said, harebrained, ridiculous, funny things.

More fun was in the works when students dressed up as the characters in the book and reenacted the movie scenes from the story. Those very simple costume pieces I had purchased and made brought out the actor in each child. One became a pirate who doesn't really like broccoli, another turned into a princess who gets help crying from an onion, two squeaky girls transformed into cute guinea pigs who turn out to be mean, evil aliens, and, finally, an artistic visionary stepped into the role of movie director shouting, "ACTION!" and "CUT!" at just the right times.

The students asked questions and told me their favorite parts of the book. One told a story about making a silly movie with her dad and brother. Another student talked about important things to remember when writing her own book for a class assignment. "Always start a sentence with a capital letter and finish with a period or a question mark," she reminded herself and her classmates.

Pictures were taken and hugs were given and received. The beautiful crocheted and fresh flower leis, the delicious cookies, and the adorable handwritten notes are treasures I will always cherish... although I must admit the cookies are already in my tummy. So yummy! 

It was a dream come true. The pesky questions that had been floating around in my head finally got their answers. 

As the children left the library at the end of their time with me, they repeated lines from the book and talked to each other about their favorite characters. I had just spent three amazing days surrounded by sweet children and the terrific adults who work every day to encourage them to read, write, explore and wonder.  What more can a children's book author ask for? Nothing, I say! 

There really aren't enough words to express my gratitude to the students, faculty, and staff of Sacred Hearts Academy for their warm welcome, wonderful smiles and great hugs. They will always have a special place in my heart. They will always be "reel cool" in my book!

Until next time... stay cool!

Martha

P.S.  I also want to thank my daughter, Jacqui, and her friend, Jhunette, for joining in the fun and reading to two classes with me.  You're the best!

16 comments:

  1. Thank you Martha! You brought so much energy and joy to the library this past week. Very grateful to have you as part of our Sacred Hearts Ohana! A hui hou!

    Laurel
    Library Media Specialist JK-6
    Sacred Hearts Academy

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    1. Mahalo Laurel!
      It was my pleasure to spend time with you and all the wonderful students. You truly made my week!

      See you soon,
      Martha

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  2. This sounds like such fun. So glad that you shared your experiences.

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    1. Glad you came by to read my post, Lynn!

      It was great fun spending time at the school! Hope to schedule some more visits. Will be returning to Sacred Hearts to speak with 4th and 5th graders about writing and publishing. I know I'll enjoy chatting with them!

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  3. I am scheduled to do readings during an elementary school Read-A-Thon. They were very excited to include an iPad picture book author in their line-up for the day. I'm sure I will be asking the same questions that swam in your head about the upcoming day. Thanks for the candid look at your first school visit.

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    1. Hi Chris,
      Thanks for stopping by! It's terrific that they are including you. Can't tell you how many little ones I've seen reading books on iPads, especially in airports/on airplanes. Best of luck to you! Please let me know how it goes.

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  4. I know what you mean about a dream come true. That's how I felt the first time Laura and I had a read-through of our musical. There was great relief when people laughed in all the right places. I'm so happy for you.

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    1. Hi Bridget,
      Thank you so much. I hope you will be able to get some interest in your musical soon. Keep me posted. Glad you stopped by!

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  5. Really like your use of costumes and drawing the kids into your book through participation as the characters! Super!

    Those most-loved and most-hated good and less-than-good reviews. Don't take it to heart. Freedom of speech is worth preserving even if it's for less-than-good reviews.

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    1. Hi Donna!
      It is hard to write about all the emotions I felt that day. The young ladies of Sacred Hearts made such an impression on me that I'm sure I will carry those emotions with me forever.

      The costumes were fun and the students were eager to put them on and act as silly as Joey, Danny and Jacqui do in the book. It was a perfect day!

      I agree with you about the reviews, but it would be dishonest of me to say that the "so-so" one didn't make me question myself a bit. :)

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  6. This must have been a wonderful experience for you! Sounds like you had as much fun as your audience did.


    (visiting via Story Dam)

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    1. Hi Tara,
      Thanks for visiting!

      It really was a wonderful experience. I wish I could show some of the pictures of the girls in their costumes but the first priority is to protect the children. They were so cute! I'm still smiling!!

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  7. How adorable! I love the idea of having the kids dress up to get into their roles. I bet that really helped bring the event off in spectacular fashion. Yay for inspiring kids to read and write.

    (Visiting from Story Dam)

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    1. The girls really loved dressing up... even me! Silliness was in the air and we all had a terrific time!

      So glad you stopped by!

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