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Read below one of those stories of children's encounters with living authors
that re-affirm why we all work at -- or on -- the intersection of children
and books.

By coincidence, the day that Kelley posted the story below on the Maine
librarians network, I read an online article in the local Maine paper about
her methods and effectiveness as a middle school librarian -- see "The New
Gender Gap: Boys need a good reason to turn the page" [] for
more inspiration....

-- Katie Day
(who grew up outside of Portland, Maine, and wishes she had experienced a
librarian like Kelley McDaniel when she was in junior high....)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Kelley McDaniel <>
Date: Mar 31, 2006 6:52 AM
Subject: [MELIBS-L] A story about making a difference

A story that validates our hard work as school librarians:

We are doing a special research project with one of the ELL (formerly ESL)
classes (Tambria Alexander, teacher). The students have each chosen a Maine
children's or young adult author to read and research.

We have been spending a lot of time exploring place, how place influences
who we are, what we do, how we live, etc.

Each student needs to gather a list of places that have been important in
their author's life, for example: born, grew up, lived, went to school,
worked, traveled. Then we look at settings and places in the author's books
and try to figure out what real places have inspired them. We've also been
doing a lot of work on reading and making maps and using atlases - of Maine,
the US and the world.

The authors that the students chose are:
Debby Atwell - Toni Buzzeo - Mary Cerullo - Jane Cowen-Fletcher - Cathryn
Falwell - Lisa Jahn-Clough - Margy Burns Knight - Fred Lipp - Kathy Mallat -
Amy MacDonald - Bruce McMillan - Lynn Plourde - Chris Van Dusen

The students are reading and practing doing three different kinds of wrting
assignments about the each book they read: summary, personal response and

In addition, we wanted each of the students to have the opportunity to meet
his or her author.  So, with the help of Kirsten Cappy (Curious City) I have
been making arrangements to take each of the authors out for lunch or coffee
so that the students can meet them, ask them some questions, and have their
pictures taken with their authors.

All of the authors we've contaced so far have been so kind and gracious.  I
would recommend working with any of them!

I wanted to share some anecdotes from our first author meeting: Faisal (a
sixth grade Somali boy) was to meet Fred Lipp at the Starbuck's in the Old
Port on Wednesday, March 29th.  One of my colleagues (Cathy) helped him
prepare for the meeting.  Cathy said, "Faisal, let's role-paly the
meeting.  I'll be you, Faisal, and you be Mr Lipp."  Faisal shook his head,
"No, I think I should be Faisal; I'm better at it."  he said.

Faisal was very nervous to meet his author.  Fred could not have been
nicer.  Some of Faisal's questions and comments were: Have you been to
Cambodia (the setting of THE CAGED BIRDS OF PNOHM PEHN)?  Does BREAD SONG
take place in Portland?  I didn't like that the cat died is THE CAT IS NOT
FOR SALE.  I like to learn new things just like the girl in TEA LEAVES, do
you like to learn new things?

Faisial kept calling him Mr Lipp who kept asking that Faisal call him Fred,
which at the end, he was finally managing to do.

Fred brought Faisal a copy of THE CAGED BIRDS... and signed it to him.  Then
he asked Faisal to tell him three dreams that he had.  Without hesitating,
Faisal replied, "I want to be a scientist."  Fred drew a bird flying free
and said, 'There, that's your dream coming true.  Now what's another dream
you have?'  "I want to find a cure for asthma," he answered.  Fred drew
another bird flying free.  "There's that dream coming true.  Now tell me one
more dream."  Faisal hesitated and then shyly, said, 'I'd really like to
meet you again."  Fred drew the third, and final, bird; he smiled as he
said, 'Im sure that we can make that dream come true."

As Cathy and I were walking Faisal back to school, he said, "This has been a
really great day.  Fred was a very wise man.  After I become a scientist,
and find a cure for asthma, maybe I can write a story about HOW I found a
cure for asthma."  Faisal paused.  "And I'll dedicate it to Fred."

Thanks for listening,

Kelley McDaniel
King Middle School
Portland, ME

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