Last week the third graders at my daughter’s school were treated to a delightful assembly and writing workshop with Christine Pakkala, author of Last-But-Not-Least Lola (Boyds Mills Press, 2013). Christine opened the assembly by asking her eager young listeners where they get their ideas, then described how she got the idea for her book and what the process from idea to publication was like. It took seven years and lots of revision until she finally got to see Last-But-Not-Least Lola in print. Her kid-friendly take-away? You, too, can your turn your ideas into stories. Just keep writing and revising and reading all kinds of literature!
The students were brimming with thoughtful questions. As a writer I was particularly interested in this one. Is it easier to write a single book or a series? Christine paused for a moment, before concluding that, for her, writing a series is easier because you have a list of characters you get to know, almost as if they are real friends, and you build your stories based on different things they do together. This answer pleased the the kids, especially when she revealed that Lola is the star of… a series! The second book, Last-But-Not-Least Lola and the Wild Chicken will be published in Fall 2014 and a third book is in the works.
After snack-time, it was time for writing workshop. The assignment was to write a story beginning with this sentence: “I only had 10 seconds before the alarm went off.” With imaginations in high gear, the kids got busy, filling the cafeteria with the sounds of pencils scratching on paper. At the end, students from each table shared their stories-in-progress. Each was unique and wonderful, which just proves that even with the same prompt, no two stories are exactly alike! That’s the wonder and joy of using our imaginations.
Something that made this particular school visit extra special was that Christine’s editor, Rebecca Davis, was in the room as well! It turns out that in addition to being a terrific editor, she’s also a mom with two kids at my daughter’s school. Here’s a lovely snapshot of Christine Pakkala and Rebecca Davis, Senior Editor for Boyds Mills Press.
Before leaving, students who had pre-ordered them, received their signed copies of Last-But-Not-Least Lola. My daughter proudly brought hers home and we’ve been enjoying reading it together every night.