Before I began writing non-fiction for the general (adult) audience, I published a dozen non-fiction books--natural history mostly--for young readers.
Two of my most popular books for young readers were Firefighting: Behind the Scenes and The Ultimate Ocean Book. Both were published in the 1990s and, before they went out of print, I bought up enough copies to have a stash on hand for some future gift or some special reader.
This young decked out firefighter fan (above) in Germany was one of them. Getting this photo made my day...as did this next one (below).
Over the years, I have visited elementary schools to give presentations on how books like the ones (above) are made--how the writer, editors, designers, paper engineers, photographers, printers, binders, and publishers collaborate to transform an idea into something tangible, possibly magical. I share my stories of researching and writing about a particular topic and pass around my messy notebooks, outlines, and heavily edited printed drafts.
After such presentations, I often receive hand-written thank-you notes from the students. Nowhere except in an elementary school will an author talk to an audience of twenty-five people and get rave reviews from every single one!
Here are four of my favorites--all written in inch-high block print in pencil and on wide lined paper.
Dear Mrs. Ruth,
Thank you for showing us all the books and the firefight Book was so good and it was so good that I wanted it so much!
Dear Mrs. Mudd Ruth,
Thank you for visiting Brooke Grove. Thank you for showing us those cool books and helping us learn that grownups make mistakes. I like to write about animals.
Dear Mrs, Mudd Ruth
Thank you for coming to our school. I think all of your books are great and the books you have written were good. I really enjoyed your books. My favorite book is the Ultimate Ocean Book because it looks good to me. Mrs. Ruth I think the whale looks nice to me in the picture.
Thank you, Monica
Dear Mrs. Mudd Ruth
Thank for visiting our school. I liked the Ocean book. I liked it because it was a pop up book. It was so good my eyes popped out. Thank you very much.