by Anya Felton
Cynthia Lord is an award-winning Newberry Medal author who lives in Maine. She has written five novels for pre-teens which include Rules, Touchblue, Because of the Rabbit, a Handful of Stars, and Half a Chance. She has also written many more books for young children. Rules has gotten more awards than any of them and is her bestselling novel.
This fall this amazing author came to our school again. She had come here for the first time in 2011, five years after Rules came out. We were all so excited to get to meet her and learn some of her techniques. She talked about how many of her books had events that had actually happened in her life. For example, in Rules there is a boy with autism and her own son has autism. She talked about how she used real places and turned them into fictional places where her characters can go. She talked about how she sometimes didn’t give the characters what they wanted at the end. She gave them what they needed.
After she talked with us, two 6th graders showed her their Little Free Library that they had made last year in 5th grade with their teacher Mrs. Christine Miller.
Then, two 7th graders took her down the path to the town Library where they showed her around JML. After she got back, she had a pizza lunch with some of the 8th graders. These 8th graders had read her books and made projects about them. The 8th graders showed her their work. Some had made a Monopoly game from the events and places in Touchblue; and Leilani Myers, Isla Michell and Chase Jansen even gave her their project—a 3-D cutout of a scene from A Handful of Stars. Cynthia was very happy and touched by these thoughtful hand-made projects about her work.
When she got back home she posted about us publicly on Facebook: “Yesterday I went back to St. George School in Tenants Harbor, Maine. I was very touched that the school had put time in my schedule for the kids to show me the Little Free Library down at the Town Landing that they had built and to give me a tour of their public library (new since my last visit). I love how strongly the kids are connected to their community.”
After Cynthia left we wrote little notes to send to her. They included comments like “amazed and inspired” and lessons learned—things like [I learned] “that you need to be passionate and patient to be a writer” and that it takes a long time and lots of revisions to write a book.
All of us really feel that this was a memorable learning experience and we had an amazing time asking questions about Cynthia’s work and learning about her life before she was an author.
(Felton is a 7th-grade student at the St. George School.)
PHOTO: Sonja Schmanska