How to Write a Letter an Author Will Love

secret destiny of pixie piper

In This Recent Fractured Fairy Tale Book List Post, I highlighted a sweet book Miss Priss and I found this summer called The Secret Destiny of Pixie Piper. Because of the post, a real live book author contacted ME! She offered to author a guest post at TheRoomMom and include a giveaway for an autographed copy of her book. Ms. Fisher offers great tips for contacting book authors and writing letters that authors love to read. If you would like to win an autographed copy of her book, share this blog post on social media using the hashtag, #readpixiepiper. After sharing, add your information to This Rafflecopter Link to be entered to win! Contest ends Friday, September 2, 2016.

annabelle fisher letter

A Guest Post by Annabelle Fisher

Author of The Secret Destiny of Pixie Piper

Have you ever written to an author before? Have you imagined her (or him!) reading your letter while drinking a cup of coffee? Was this author smiling, laughing, or wishing she could give you a comforting hug?

The letters we authors like to receive best are a bit like conversations. The one I posted above is one of my favorites because I could picture the letter-writer’s class laughing or shouting as the teacher read. It included details about exactly what was funny. I also liked hearing how my book let the class “get the laughs out” after reading a sad book. I loved knowing that my story made those kids feel better.

I asked some author friends of mine what questions and comments they like to see in the letters they receive. Here are their answers:

Donna Galanti, author of Joshua and the Lightning Road, wrote that she’d had a young reader (who actually reviews books) tell her that he liked how she used scents and smells in her book. He quoted the line “He smelled like a wet dog that had been swimming in sour milk.” He said he knew “exactly how revolting is.”

Author Susan Lynn Meyer wrote that one of her favorite things was hearing from a young reader in Austria who had read the English edition of her novel, Black Radishes, although German was his first language and it had been translated into German.  Ms. Meyer said, “It’s exciting the book is traveling around the world, including to places I’ve never been.”

Jeannie Mobley, author of Silver Heels, says, “I commonly have kids tell me what they think should happen to my main characters after the story ends, and I always like that.”

Author Susan Ross says, “I was very moved by thank you letters in a blog from an inner city class…that read Kiki and Jacques prior to my author visit. One student’s favorite part was the father getting help with alcoholism; another said he could face up to a bully now….Meant so much to me!”

These caring authors are curious about what you think – and so am I. We enjoy knowing not just what our readers liked, but why. We want to know not only where you’re from, but what you would show us if we came to visit your city or town.  We like to hear if the main character or another character reminds you of yourself, a friend, or a frenemy. And we absolutely want to know if our books inspired you and how.

Your questions and comments remind us that our readers care about what we write. So keep those letters coming!

Annabelle Fisher is the author of The Secret Destiny of Pixie Piper, which reviewers have called, “entertaining,” “fresh,” “creative,” and “pretty darn charming.” Visit her website at www.annabellefisher.com for info about author talks and writers’ workshops. Or email her at annabellefisherbooks@gmail.com

fisher author letter tips pin

For more help writing author letters, CLICK HERE to download a Free Author Letter Resource on TpT.

Fractured Fairy Tales

 

secret destiny of pixie piper

Fractured fairy tales are those stories that take traditional fairy tale plots and put a twist on the story everyone knows. This genre of book is pretty hot right now in children’s literature. A new book that I just finished reading in this book category is The Secret Destiny of Pixie Piper by Annabelle Fisher. This book caught my attention because it was a mash-up Mother Goose nursery rhymes rather than traditional fairy tales (and I liked the pet goose side story). I am definitely going to recommend it to my fourth graders when we go back to school next month. My daughter, Miss Priss, highly recommends Rump, Red, and other companion books by Liesl Shurtliff; they were her favorite books this summer.

land of stories colfer

Upper Elementary

  • Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede
  • Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
  • Fairest by Gail Carson Levine (Enchanted series)
  • The Fairy Tale Detectives by Michael Buckley (The Sisters Grimm series)
  • Happily Ever After by Anna Quindlen
  • If the Shoe Fits by Jane B. Mason (Princess School series)
  • The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell series by Chris Colfer
  • Rapunzel, The One With All the Hair by Wendy Mass (Twice Upon a Time series)
  • Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin by Liesl Shurtliff (and others by this author)
  • The School for Good and Evil series by Soman Chainani (5th grade+)
  • A Tale Dark and Grimm series by Adam Gidwitz
  • The Wide Awake Princess series by E.D. Baker (and others by this author)

entwined by heather dixon

Middle School

  • Beauty Sleep by Cameron Dokey (and others by this author)
  • Enchanted by Alethea Kontis (Woodcutter series, mixed reviews)
  • Entwined by Heather Dixon
  • The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
  • The Grimm Legacy by Polly Shulman
  • The Princess Bride by William Goldman

red riding hood

And lots of picture books…

  • Honestly, Red Riding Hood was Rotten by Trisha Speed Shaskan (and others in this series)
  • Jack and the Baked Beanstalk by Colin Stimpson
  • The Rough-Face Girl by Rafe Martin (and other Cinderella re-tellings like Cinder-Elly by Frances Minters)
  • The Three Snow Bears by Jan Brett
  • The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka

Native American Books

birchbark house

Summer is here and that means I can catch up with my kid lit book pile. To start this summer, I picked up a few books that were rereads for me. Rereading is a great activity for readers because it builds fluency and gives the reader a chance to glean more (and different ideas) from a story, and it builds stronger connections. It also has the benefit of helping you get through any book mourning you may experience when you don’t want a special book to end.

Two books that started my summer reading binge are books that have Native American settings, The Birchbark House and Morning Girl. I had not read either book in several years, but one of the reasons I wanted to reread them is because they have characters who make everything they need to live from scratch. I love the scenes in the story where the author describes the procedures for building a house or hunting for food or making clothing. If you like Little House on the Prairie because of the parts where Laura and her family build a cabin or gather maple syrup, you will enjoy these stories too. I should probably focus more on the results of white settlers claiming American Indian land and the destructive impact it had on these groups. The books include recognition of that topic too. I happen to like the parts that show self-reliance the best since the other parts are so sad.

morning girl

Chapter Books

  • The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich
  • Morning Girl by Michael Dorris
  • Guests by Michael Dorris
  • The Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell
  • Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
  • The Talking Earth by Jean Craighead George
  • Far North by Will Hobbs
  • Indian Captive: The Story of Mary Jemison by Lois Lenski
  • The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare
  • Soft Rain: A Story of the Cherokee Trail of Tears by Cornelia Cornelissen
  • When the Legend Dies by Hal Borland (7th grade+)
  • Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen (7th grade+)

Short Story

  • A Man Called Horse by Dorothy M. Johnson (7th grade+)

rough face girl

Picture Books

  • The Rough-Face Girl by Rafe Martin
  • The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses by Paul Goble
  • Buffalo Woman by Paul Goble
  • The Desert is Theirs by Byrd Baylor

girl who loved wild horses

There were many more recommendations on THIS AICL WEBSITE dedicated to American Indians in children’s literature.

For more summer reading ideas, my teacher blogger friend, Amy, has posted a new Hidden Gem book that you might not find on your own. CLICK HERE to read her latest recommendation.

Hidden Gems: The Missing Golden Ticket

hidden gems missing golden ticket

“Writing process” is a big catch phrase in the education world, and students will do everything possible to complete as little of the process as possible. The writing process involves reflecting on your own writing and actually making noticeable changes and improvements.

The Missing Golden Ticket is a book of Roald Dahl writing secrets and includes tidbits about Dahl’s process for writing Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It includes a chapter from the Chocolate Factory book that was edited out before publication. Readers get to learn about Dahl’s original story and character ideas, which are very different from the published book. This book is a great option to illustrate an author’s journey through the writing process.

If you love Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, you might also like these gems:

Floors by Patrick Carman

  • Instead of a candy factory, this book is set in a hotel. Each room of the hotel has a different crazy theme. The book also has a duck side story, which made me think of the Peabody Hotel in Memphis. I wrote to Mr. Carman, the author inquiring about the ducks, and it is an allusion to the Peabody Hotel.

floors cover

Candymakers by Wendy Mass

  • A group of children are selected to participate in a candy making contest. The book is broken into parts, and the same events are retold in each part of the story but from the point of view of a different character.

candymakers cover

The Gollywhopper Games by Jody Feldman

  • This book is set in a toy factory, but like Charlie, the kids in the story have to survive the challenges and be the last one standing.

gollywhopper games

Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman

  • Using clues from books, people try to be the first to win the scavenger hunt. It is set in San Francisco and mixes whodunnit with literary references.

book scavenger

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein

  • This combines library and literature knowledge into a scavenger hunt. It’s like Book Scavenger meets Gollywhopper Games.

mr lemoncellos library cover

For more Hidden Gem book ideas, CLICK HERE. Some of my teacher blogging friends are sharing more great-but-often-forgotten book titles! To purchase activities related to The Missing Golden Ticket, CLICK HERE.

Hidden Gems: The Bread Winner

hidden gems bread winner

Even though the end of the school year is nowhere in sight, I am already considering books to teach my students next year. My goal every year is to find high interest books that no student in the class has read– yet. No easy feat. I do reteach favorite books from year to year, but I always rotate one or two out of the line up.

This week, I have been assessing my bookshelf and determining what will stay and what will go next year. The one book that will definitely stay is The Bread Winner by Arvella Whitmore (not to be confused by The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis). I have yet to have a student who has read this book prior to entering my class, but I always have students who come back and tell me it was the best book they read in the fourth grade.

The story takes place during the Great Depression and centers on Sarah Puckett, a girl who won a blue ribbon at the 4-H fair for her homemade bread. Through her creativity and problem solving skills, she starts a bread business out of the house and solves many of her family’s problems. Sarah independently overcomes obstacles, and while she has supportive parents, Sarah is the one who takes action. Since I witness so many students asking for help before even attempting to start something new or unfamiliar, a character like Sarah is a great role model.

Other books that I would consider to be a hidden gem and are possibilities for next year are:

Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin

  • There are many books available right now that feature characters with a learning difference of some kind. One of the hot books this year in teacher circles is Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt; I thought Rain Reign was better. My daughter read it and barely made it through due to the dog situation (tissue alert– nobody dies, but…), so that may bump it off the list. Not that I am against crying in front of my students, but I try to avoid “ugly crying.”

rain reign

Snow Treasure by Marie McSwigan

  • This novel is based on a true story. Children in a Norwegian town smuggle gold away from the Nazis during WWII. I like the fact that I would be able to hunt down the real story with students after finishing the book.

snow treasure

The Wheel on the School by Meindert DeJong

  • This book has a slower pace and is a little longer, but I love the way the book focuses on a group of school kids who get their community involved in investigating a question about why storks no longer settle in the town. Anything that promotes teamwork and persistance is a great option.

the wheel on the school

Kavik the Wolf Dog by Walt Morey

  • I think this may be better suited to 6th graders due to the tiny print in the book and more sophisticated vocabulary, but a loyal dog’s search for his home is usually a winner with all readers. It could definitely be a read aloud with students rather than a novel that is studied as a class.

kavik the wolf dog

For more Hidden Gem book ideas, CLICK HERE. Some of my teacher blogging friends are sharing more great-but-often-forgotten book titles!