Posted by: jeannineatkins | November 12, 2008

Thank you, Bement School!

I had a great afternoon yesterday at Bement School in South Deerfield, MA I met with sixth graders who told me that what writers need are knowing many words, being able to make things bigger and smaller, knowing how not to wiggle too much, and “maybe this goes along with not wiggling, drinking a lot of coffee, so you have something to do while waiting for ideas,” having a good imagination, researching, and having something in life that makes you happy. I especially loved that last one. Which would be my dogs who keep me company as I try not to wiggle too much while making things bigger or smaller.

Later I met more people while signing books. One three-year-old had been a paleontologist for Halloween, and his mom kindly bought him Mary Anning and the Sea Dragon. I shared a table with Lauren Mills, pictured below: women from history at one end of our table and elves and fairies at the other.

I chatted a bit with Heidi Yolen Stemple (left) and Shelley Rotner

And I got a book signed by Norton Juster, who may be best known for The Phantom Tollbooth, which children are clutching here.

I like to have someone read a picture book each day of my children’s literature class, and The Hello, Goodbye Window illustrated by Chris Raschka is an especially nice fit when discussing ways to other worlds, with its ordinary looking kitchen window at Nanna and Poppy’s house, which is also a magic gateway. Norton Juster told me about signing this book at a store when it first came out. His granddaughter, who was the model for the book’s exuberant main character, was there. He let her sign her name below his, then saw her autograph get bigger and more ornate after every signing. At last he protested.

And his little granddaughter replied, “Live with it, Poppy.”



  1. Love this post! Live with it, Poppy. Priceless! And all those observations from the 6th graders.I’m going to have to control my wiggling from now on :).

  2. nice to hear from you, Jama! Yes, I bet “Live with it, Poppy,” gets invoked pretty regularly in that household. And the guy with the wiggling advice, do you think he’d heard that before?

  3. Ha! 🙂

  4. Ha! I bet he did, too.
    Oh, I remember the dinosaur/paleontologist years–I’m pretty sure that’s when we read Mary Anning, too. All you needed for fun was a sandbox, a tiny shovel, and paintbrush, and lots of plastic things to bury and dig up.

  5. hey wait! I know THEM!!!
    Lauren, Heidi and Shelley! Lauren and Shelley are in the illustrator’s group I belong to.

  6. Re: hey wait! I know THEM!!!
    Well, you really should have been there. I met an illustrator whose name I don’t remember but works with you, lives in VT, has kids at Bement and when he mentioned his workplace I mentioned you — then he started saying, well if you know Kevin, you must know… and I said, Uh, no, I just know Jo. He was dazzling kids with superheroes.

  7. Sounds like good times!

  8. whose name I don’t remember…
    And THAT would be Chris Rooks!
    dazzling kids with superheroes……that’s Chris! 😉

  9. Re: whose name I don’t remember…
    yes, thank you!

  10. Sounds like a great day!

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