Yesterday I wrote a letter to Charlie (aged 8) in response to a letter he sent me recently. Below is my response to his brother Tommy (aged 7) who also wrote me a letter. See my original post here and their letters in full on their mum's abc Jenny website here
Thank you so much for your wonderful, thoughtful letter. I really enjoyed reading it. The part about your missing teeth made me laugh. That’s what I love about Leigh Hedstrom’s illustrations – the details that kids can relate to that add humour and light to a situation that can feel sad. One of my favourite pages is when the little girl practices her violin- it reminds me of the frustrations of learning something new.
Thank you for the suggestion of putting an age on my book so that people don’t get upset. It is interesting how people of different ages respond. When I speak in schools, it is the older children who seem to understand and be affected by the final pages, the younger grades just really enjoy the story. I wonder if that’s how it was with you when you read it at six and then again at seven?
I like what you say about seeds – how they are something that you used to share with your grandpa and how they are like life. If I were writing this in my book I might have said something like “When I See Grandma I bring her some plants for her dreams to bloom on.” You might think of a better way to say this. I didn’t mention plants in the book, but did you notice the flowers on many of the pages?
I’m glad that you have some fun memories of your grandparents and you can still talk with them anytime and make new memories. It is also lovely that you visit people in a retirement home with your school. I am sure that the people living there look forward to your visits very much.
I would love to hear from you again when my next book comes out in October next year. It is a fun book about being scared. I am excited that I get to peek at the work of the illustrator before the end of this year. I can hardly wait to see what she does with the words I have written!
Thanks so much for encouraging your boys to write these lovely letters. I love them! And thank you for using When I See Grandma in a thoughtful, sensitive way to open up conversations in a difficult time for you all.
Wishing you all the best.
In my last post, I wrote about a letter I received from Charlie (aged 8) and his brother, Tommy (aged 7). See my post here and their letters in full on their mum's abc Jenny website here. Below is my response to Charlie, and tomorrow I will post my response to Tommy.
Thank you for your wonderful, thoughtful letter.
I do sometimes worry when adults have tears in their eyes at the end of my book – but I cheer myself up by remembering that some adults like a good cry when reading a book or watching a movie. I once bought a book because it made me cry - it is called Love You Forever by Robert Munsch. It is a bestselling book in the USA and Canada – I wonder if you know it? My kids thought it was very funny that I couldn’t read it to them without crying. I can hardly believe that one reviewer compared When I see Grandma to Love You Forever – I was totally amazed! When I’ve read When I See Grandma to kids, they usually don’t feel sad, unless it’s something they recognise from their own life, and then I hope it gives them encouragement for the sad times.
I am sorry that your grandpa is sick and that he spends a lot of time sleeping like the grandma in my story. I like how you can see yourself helping your grandpa like the kids in my book – reminding him of the ‘old fashioned days.’
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was a magic teapot that helps people stay alive longer, like you say? You have a fabulous imagination and I’d love to see your books one day. I like the sound of Seal Magic as I like animals. I didn’t write lots of stories when I was your age – it is something I started to do when I was an adult, but I wish I had as all that practice would have made me even better sooner!
My next book is due out in October next year, and it is not at all sad. It is a book about being scared –but in a fun way. My words are with the publisher, Hachette, and an illustrator is now working on the pictures. I’m very excited to see how it will look!
I look forward to hearing from you again,
All the best with your writing
I received an amazing letter from two gorgeous boys whose mother used When I See Grandma to open up a discussion about their Grandfather's declining health. You can view it here on the abcJenny website
Jen Graham is an educational consultant and literary specialist, as well as a writer, teacher and parent. I value her insights and regularly re-post her creative wisdom on social media. How lovely that she chose my book to help connect her children with the issues their grandfather is facing. As she says in her part of the letter: "children can happily read the book without dealing with the complexities of death. However, it is a great chance to open up discussions if needed."
I also love how the boys have an idea of their grandfather's history and can remind him of 'the old fashioned days' and things they've shared together like raising seeds - and how they can draw the connection with the children in my book. So beautiful!
Thank you ABC Charlie, Tommy and Jenny. Your letter means so much to me.
I shall reply when I've let your words sink in a little more.