I've returned safely from the snowy reaches of the great white north and have been doing even more traveling around.
Monday, I was in the delightfully named Center Sandwich with Duncan McDougal, the big cheese in charge of the Children's Literacy Foundation. I have been working with CLiF for several years, visiting schools that typically could not afford to bring in an author without CLiF's generous help.
CLiF also sponsors rural libraries, awarding grants of $2,000 for the librarians to pick out whatever books they want for their libraries. The book donations are made at a big ceremony at the local public school to try to encourage the schools and libraries to find ways to help each other support literacy in the community.
I watched Duncan work his magic and hold a large group of kids spellbound as he told them about the wonders of reading and got them very excited about the books their library was receiving. I'll be doing the presentations at a school at the end of the month. I only hope I do half as well as Duncan did.
Tuesday, I went back up north, this time to get terribly, terribly lost on my way to the Holderness Central School. I had actually driven through Holderness on Monday, so I figured I was all set with the directions and made much of the drive with my eyes closed, just to show off.
I got my directions from Google Maps. (No, I don't have a GPS. I don't have a cell phone, either. While we're at it, I still don't have a Facebook page or a working TV. You have to cope with this. Not me. I'm perfectly content.)
The directions would have been perfect had my destination been the Ashland Central School. I was looking for the Holderness Central School, however. Undaunted, I drove on thinking, "Hey, I was just here yesterday. I'm pretty sure I saw this school on my drive,"
It turns out, I had not seen that school on my drive. After driving farther and farther from anything that looked like a school, I began to get a bit panicky. When I saw the sign that said Welcome to Mexico, I stopped a very helpful guy on a mountain bike and asked him for directions. His response, "Whooo, boy. You're REALLY lost" did surprisingly little to calm my nerves.
This is the point of the story where my friends all jump in and say, "See? If you had a cell phone, you could have called the school." This is true. But here is the amazing part - I was still able to call the school. I found an old fashioned device called a pay phone. It is a slightly more sophisticated means of communication than smoke signals or carrier pigeons, which I am thinking about employing in the future.
Through the delicate art of excessive, reckless speeding, I arrived at the school in time to start my first presentation right on schedule.
It was a delightful day in Holderness. The kids and teachers were loads of fun. They even did enough research about me to know that I would rather eat a plateful of toenails than the average school lunch. So, rather than Sloppy Joes and Tater Tots, I was treated to a gourmet lunch of tasty sandwiches, excellent salads, and delicious desserts. I will be driving to Holderness for lunch every day from now on, and, though the lunch was exceptional, I do expect there to be a larger wine list offered in the future.
They were celebrating Literacy Week (which is way more fun than Advanced Concepts in Math Week) and many of the classes had decorated their doors with pictures from favorite books. I was flattered to see that several classes had chosen my books. There was a three dimensional desk from The Messiest Desk (complete with three - count 'em, three! pairs of undies). There was a complete rewrite of Twelve Terrible Things, changing it to Twelve Terrific Things. It was very funny and clever, though I'm not sure I approve of all the happiness it portrayed. There were lots and lots of new rules for The Rules, and some great artwork and ideas from my other books, as well.
Most frightening of all was a giant, bigger than life picture of Auntie Lulu from my website covering the entire doorway to the library. I almost wet my pants laughing when I saw it.
Please take a moment to notice the last picture. The one of the kid in the red shirt. It's a new rule: Put the toilet seat down. The artist in this case took the time to make the water yellow and dotted with little McNuggets of poop. That's the sort of attention to detail that separates good art from great art. Nice work!!
It's always very flattering to be made to feel so welcomed in a school. At a school like the one in Holderness, I will be walking down the hall and will hear whispers of "Hey! That's Martykelley!"
It's always one word. Martykelley. Like Cher or something. When I walk through the halls I hear "Hi Martykelley. Hi Martykelley. Hi Martykelley. Hi Martykelley. Hi Martykelley."
And the occasional "Hey! Look! Martykelley is going into the bathroom."
I'll try to remember to put the seat down when I'm finished...