Meet Me in St. Louis!

This week has been busy-busy-busy…but full of good things, so this is going to be one of those mix-of-everything blogs.

First, the Meet-Me-in-St.-Louis part…

I had a great Skype visit yesterday with these Bellerive Elementary School fifth graders who had read THE BRILLIANT FALL OF GIANNA Z.  (In truth…only the kids and their teachers were in St. Louis.  I was at my desk in my classroom in Northern NY during my lunch break!) The students had lots of great questions, especially about where I got the ideas for the different characters in the book.  Trivia note:  Gianna’s little brother Ian’s penchant for stealing cell phones & snapping photos came from the little sister of a kid who was on my son’s soccer team years ago. Molly’s mother was forever chasing her down the sidelines to get her phone back.

The terrific librarian who organized this visit warned me that there may be a slew of Skype visit requests on the way, since GIANNA Z. is a Mark Twain Award nominee for 2011-2012. And…I found out this week that GIANNA Z. was also selected for the Pennsylvania Young Readers Choice Award List for next year, for grades 6-8. These nominations truly mean so much to me because I know how carefully committee members read through books trying to find the ones their readers will love. Thanks, Pennsylvania and Missouri librarians!

In other news, I’ve donated signed books (and a Skype mentoring session for aspiring writers) to a couple groups holding online auctions to raise money for earthquake relief in Japan.  I’ll share the links when things are up and running.

My students and I have been working on a school-wide Red Cross fundraiser, too. They’ve been learning about persuasive strategies and decided to put them to good use convincing their fellow classmates and teachers to pitch in to help with earthquake relief efforts in Japan. We’re having a friendly competition to see which homeroom can collect the most money, and my kids have been busy making posters and writing announcements to promote the effort. Yesterday, a few of my girls came into my room before school with this cake.

“We thought it would help get people to the meeting and make them excited to help,” one of them said. “We just wanted to do something.”

I loved this simple, sweet gesture so much, maybe because watching the news, it’s hard not to be filled up with despair sometimes.  I think we all need to remember that we can do things to help. Even small things make a difference. If you’d like to donate to the Red Cross, too, you can do so here.