Laura Shovan and Janet Sumner Johnson are on tour as “Sweet Sixteens,” debut children’s authors of 2016. I love any opportunity to connect my students with authors, so when I heard they had some openings, I jumped at the chance.
To prepare my students for this visit, I have been reading aloud an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary. We are getting to know Hannah, Sloane, Sydney, Kate, George, and other students in the fifth grade at Emerson. The school board plans to sell the school for demolition and a new grocery store. Under the guidance of Ms. Hill, who must be a wonderfully kind teacher, the students protest and use poetry to get their voices heard. Laura Shovan creates a compelling story with her intricate knowledge of each character carefully depicted in the craft of poetry.
With Laura was Janet Sumner Johnson, author of the The Last Great Adventure of the PB&J Society. We had time to read only one chapter of this book before our visit, but Janet packs so much into that first chapter that my kids were full of questions. Janet said that she wrote the first version of the book 15 years ago. It’s been through lots of revisions. My students enjoyed learning about how Janet got her idea for the PB&J Society.
As an aspiring author myself, I took a special interest in what these wonderful women had to say about their writing and publishing experiences. Laura showed us her huge binder full of tabs in which she kept every draft of every poem for every character. I was amazed!
Both authors connected with the kids and were respectful of each and every question, even the silly ones like “Do you know about narwhals?” Kaiden loved being the first to notice that the homeless girl in Laura’s book had the last name Holmes. I believe that there are many more clever details in these two books. They come out in April. Get ready to add them to your classroom library.
Ruth Ayres invites us the celebrate each week. Click over to her site Discover. Play. Build. to read more celebrations.