In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, with so much devastation, with complexity and struggle, with a supremely mean election churning toward the finish line, with people wondering whom they can trust, with money short, with credit high, with angst and discouragement and depression and anger all around, I want to tell you about an email I received recently from two girls. The subject line read:
They had just read my novel Close to Famous, about a girl named Foster who is a serious baker and struggles terribly with reading. Foster has a green apron with a shooting star — trust me, that's important (see below). But let them tell you in their words (I've deleted their names and did get their permission to share their correspondence)…they are The Project Girls.
HEY Joan I loved your book close to famous it was amazing i read it in a day.Well you see i am in reading competition with my friend and that is where i found your book she read it and she told me so much about it thats all she talked about for a week! A WHOLE WEEk!!! Then she said to me that i need to read the book so i read it and OMG are you an amazing WRITER and me and her are doing a project for YOUR book we decided for our class project were going to make the cupcakes in the back of the book and were doing a powerpoint about your book and I thought it would be cool to do a slide all about YOU so thats why im emailing you im sorry i dont know what to say ive never liked a book enough to contact an author your my first one i would love if you would email me back i would be so happy! just tell me all about you things nobody knows that you wont mind sharing one question id really like you to answer is why did you write this book was it something that happened in your life i would love to put you in my powerpoint Joan so PLEASE email back i would like it real soon our deadlines coming up by the way were in 8th grade!!
It's impossible not to answer an email like this, and you must respond right away. So I gave them some places on my website to get info and I wrote:
Hi guys — So glad you liked the book! How cool is that? I'll give you one quick thing that NOBODY KNOWS. And it just happened yesterday. Before yesterday, my three favorite cupcakes were coconut, maple pecan, and chocolate. I just had lunch with my daughter in Providence and we went to this insanely significant cupcake place called the Duck and Bunny and now my number one favorite cupcake is Banana Nutella, number two is Red Velvet, and number three is coconut.
Okay, use this information wisely and get a terrific grade.
A week later, I got this…
It's us, the project girls!
Dear Joan, do you remember us? We sent you an email pretty fast back and told us your favorite kind of cupcakes! We did a PowerPoint about you. We wanted to tell you about our project so far its due on the 25th now… Well the PowerPoint is done and we were making cupcakes the night before but we decided we needed Foster Aprons so we went to Walmart and got a pack of aprons coloring dye a shooting star stencil and some yellow paint for the star and also sparkling red grape wine don't worry were 13 and 14 its non alcoholic. We were following directions for the aprons and it said to fill your sink with 2 gallons of water and SALT (it smelled really bad) then to put the packet in (it was like a powder you added) well Sierra dropped it in the sink had to get the packet out of the water out and got our fingers green. (we definitely had a green thumb) well after like an hour of splashing green on ourselves we had to put it in the washing machine it was haaarrrd work we decided to drink our red grape drink and we toasted to you and our green fingers. wish us good luck cleaning up well keep you up on the status of our project.
I give a standing ovation to these girls for guts and initiative. I applaud their teacher for giving this assignment. I salute their parents for being such good eggs, and I so hope the green dye didn't destroy the sink or permanently stain hands, etc., truly I do.
And in case you were wondering how to get someone's attention, let The Project Girls inspire you. In my book they get an A+ and major points for extra credit. Nobody gets better mail than those of us who write for kids.