Writing to an Author #ClassroomConnections

 Last month, I got an amazing email from a kindergarten teacher in Belgium named Eleonora about my most recent picture book, Clover Kitty Goes to Kittygarten.

She said that a friend recommended the book to her because:

“(I’m autistic and very sensitive to sensory stimuli) and a kindergarten teacher. And I really, really loved it, it really touched me. Thank you so much for writing this wonderful book!”

Eleonora went on to wonder if a Dutch edition was forthcoming, AND she sent me her Dutch translation!

Three things about this.

  1. Her email made me a bit teary-eyed. To know that something I wrote could resonate so beautifully with someone on the other side of the globe AND that she took the time to write to me—it was a bit overwhelming (in a good way).
  2. When teachers or students write to an author, it means something. I’m not talking about the, “Here are the questions I want you to answer because I chose you as my homework assignment” notes. Or the “Can you Zoom with my students for free today?” notes. I mean when you really connect to a book and just want to tell the author that. When you do that, you are giving that author a lovely gift.
  3. I LOVE seeing my books in another language! I’ve never had a book translated to Dutch, and the publisher is the one who makes those decisions and deals. But regardless of whether anyone ELSE sees it in Dutch, I’m so grateful Eleonora sent me her translation. I’m sharing just a bit of it here (with her permission, as is the excerpt from her email).

 

“Tijd om in de kring te zitten!”

Daarna moesten de kittens veel te dicht op elkaar op de mat gaan zitten om naar een verhaaltje te luisteren.

Kittenschool was een kat-astroof!”

 

Een kat-astroof! I LOVE that! Looking at words in another language often gives me a new look at familiar words and a different way to see them. Here’s that bit in English:

 

“CIRCLE TIME!” 

Then she forced the kitties to sit on a crowded story time rug.

Kittygarten was a cat-astrophe!

 

I also wanted to see how the rhyming bits translated. Like:

“She tried.

          She sighed.

                    Clover Kitty quietly cried.

 

School felt nine lives long.

Maybe ten.”

 

In Dutch, that’s:

 

“Ze probeerde. Ze zuchtte.

Klaver kitten weende zachtjes.

School voelde negen levens lang.

Misschien zelfs wel tien.”

 

No rhyming, but the rhythm still holds. Words and the way they work in different languages is fascinating!

So, teachers, the next time you or your class absolutely adores a book, if you have the time to send along a note to the writer and/or the illustrator, I promise they will treasure your words! The next time the writer is feeling a bit low about a bad review or a miniscule royalty statement or a rough author visit, she will likely pull your words out again to remind herself that it’s all worth it!

[My Classroom Connections posts share a way to connect one of my books or poems to a classroom topic–often something timely that you might be covering in the next month or so. Please share this post if you have educator friends who might be interested–thanks!]

4 Responses

  1. Wow! This touches my heart! What a meaningful and memorable review! So well deserved and pleased for you Laura! Do what you can to influence a dutch translation!!

  2. Laura, I’m so happy for you! That’s wonderful that she took the time to write. The last time I commented I mentioned how your book would be good for children with sensory issues, I had children on the spectrum in mind. Is there a way you contact schools about your book, or can you email the kindergarten teachers. In schools around where I live you can easily find teachers emails on school websites. This is probably considered solicitation, though, right?

    What about contacting IRA International Reading Council about your book? Is your publisher reaching out to schools? Or do they leave it up to you. I have an award-winning author friend, Jennifer Roy, who wrote Yellow Star, which is an amazing verse novel about her aunt surviving the Łódź ghetto and other children’s books. I’m going to ask her if there is some way a local reading council can help your book get around here in the capital district in upstate NY. Here’s my email gailaldous@msn.com. It’s the Iroquois Reading Council and teachers are members.

    Also what about emailing public libraries about your book? The local library here is The Saratoga Springs Public Library. They usually have a good budget to buy books. We also have a local bookstore Northshire Biokstore in Saratoga Springs, NY & they have virtual events for authors. I’m pretty sure Rachael Sheinkin is the contact person at Northshire. There number is 518–682-4200. Rachael’s husband is Steve Sheinkin, who is an award-winning author for NF books for kids.

    Just trying to help.

    1. Hi Gail–thank you SO much for your enthusiasm! Some of these I have done. Others I do indirectly (like through my e‑letter for educators). It’s a hard time to promote a book (especially one related to school) because educators have SO MUCH to do right now. I never love promoting, but it feels extra hard right now when teachers have so much chaos to deal with. That said, you mentioned a couple of things I hadn’t thought of that I’m going to try doing. I especially wish I could figure out how to connect with parents of children who have sensory sensitivity, but I haven’t go the answer to that (yet). But now I have a few new things to work on :>) Again, thank you for your support and your brainstorming:>)

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