I (like all authors & illustrators) spend a lot of time alone writing and drawing and I always have to fight the small doubts that whisper: Does this matter? Will anyone care?
But, when I visit schools and meet the enthusiastic readers of my books those doubts are so, so happily squashed. The joy of seeing my books well-loved is really the fuel that makes my finish my books. Just the memory of it is like having a team cheering you on.
And one recent visit was particularly nourishing. Many years ago, I received a letter from a teacher, Felix Chen. It was so long ago, I don't even remember what he said or what I replied! But I do remember after hearing about my book-in-progress, he even sent me photos from his trips to Taiwan so that I could use for reference as well as telling me some of his humorous experiences there. It was so helpful that I thanked him in my book Dumpling Days:
|I think he was the one who told me about the puppies in the vending machine at the night market!|
We continued to correspond and last year I was so thrilled when he told me his third class had put on their own Where the Mountain Meets the Moon play. So I was over the moon (so to speak) when this past May, I was able to visit his school! It was a red letter day!
Or maybe I should say it was rainbow-lettered day, for the welcome sign was an artistic thing of beauty:
Do you notice how each letter is made into something inspired by my books:
And the sign was adorned by incredible projects:
|Welcome to the City of Bright Moonlight!|
|the giant toad in Starry River of the Sky!|
And that was just when I walked though the door! The hallways were hung with more incredible art!
|mixed-media portraits of characters from my book!|
|The King's Garden from Where the Mountain Meets the Moon (the King & Minli are sculpted figures!)|
|the Kindergarten made a collaborative mural!|
|isn't it beautiful?|
The third grade made puppets of everyone who was in Where the Mountain Meets the Moon :
including the author!
|it's quite flatter, I think!|
For another collaborative project, one grade made the Village of Moon Rain:
complete with a mountain cave:
When I walked into the third grade classroom, I was a little surprised to see they were all playing board games. But when I looked closer, I saw they were all playing student-made games--all inspired by my books!
|A Year of the Rat board game!|
|a "Minli's journey" board game!|
|I loved all their "danger cards." This one says, "The monkeys attack you! Move back three spaces!"|
There was even a Where the Mountain Meets the Moon chess set:
Look at the neat game pieces:
|Do you recognize the characters? I see A-fu, A-gong, the Green Tiger and A-fu!|
|and the buffalo boy, buffalo, Minli, the Old Man of the Moon, Ma & Ba!|
I was so excited to see some the costumes from last year's play on display that I asked if I could see some of the students wear them.
In reply, they just led to the auditorium where I saw this:
Yes! It was an encore of last year's show, just for me:
|I think they gave the professional show a run for their money!|
|the incredible cast of actors and actresses!|
|incredible-teacher Felix Chen & I as a couple of Ugly Vegetables! They made these awesome cut-outs, too!|
Thank you so much, my friends at the Abington Friends School!