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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

An Open Letter to Jon Scieszka

Dear Jon,

Just wanted to let you know how much of an inspiration you were to me when I was a young teacher who dreamed of being a writer.

I first got to know you through your book, THE TRUE STORY OF THE THREE LITTLE PIGS. My teaching colleagues and I actually used to have competitions to see who could read it aloud with the best, funniest voices.*  I loved that book to infinity.

And then, THEN you wrote THE STINKY CHEESE MAN AND OTHER FAIRLY STUPID TALES. Wow. This book. It was a game changer. So completely bizarre, yet absolutely wonderful.  Countless first graders in my classes throughout the years learned to read by reading the Giant's Story over and over and over again. (And don't get me started on Jack's Bean Problem!)  I read it for the first time when one of my student's checked it out from out school library on its very first day in the school. The librarian told the student she MUST bring it back the very next day so others could check it out. It was on One Day Only circulation. Well, the student forgot and the librarian was pretty darn mad. I felt bad about it, since I had vouched for the child, so during lunch, I ran to the bookstore and bought another copy, supposedly to give to the librarian for her collection, BUT...I didn't end up doing that.

I kept it for myself.
  Image result for stinky cheese man

I could not let it go!!**

The best part of this story, though, happened when I received my Scholastic Book Order and the publisher had enclosed a cassette tape featuring an interview of you and Lane Smith!  I played it right away, naturally.

When you said that you were a schoolteacher and a writer...well, that rocked my world. That someone could do BOTH of the things that I loved so much was just so incredibly affirming.  The fact that you were successfully balancing writing and teaching inspired me not to give up.

Because of you, I have been a teacher for nearly thirty years, and an author for almost twenty.

And now, my students (third grade) are falling in love with Frank Einstein!
I really wish I had thought of this!! 

And don't get me started on this:

No words can properly express the awesome. 

So, thank you, Jon, for proving by example that there was hope for me. Thank you for instilling the spark of resilience and optimism within my heart. For writing books that break all the rules and expertly manage to worm their way into the hearts of kids everywhere.

I am forever grateful.


*Yes, I usually won. But my colleagues would probably say that they won. But they would be incorrect. It was ME!

**The student did bring the book back, of course. It just took an extra day. Not really that big of a deal. However, I was a newish teacher in New Mexico (and my husband was still in school) which meant I was about as far down on the pay scale  as it is possible for any teacher anywhere to go, The fact that I went out and bought a hardcover book is a testament to Stinky Cheese Man's amazingness.


Myrna Foster said...

I love everything I've ever read by him. My friends and I used to call each other Stinky this and that in high school because of the Stinky Cheese Man.

Kelly Polark said...

My students (and I) adore his books, too!! Fun tribute to an amazing author! (You are pretty amazing yourself!)

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

I used to use The True Story of the Three Little Pigs in my third and fourth classrooms. :)

Julie Dao said...

Oh, how I loved all of those books growing up!!! I'll definitely be buying fresh copies for my own kiddos one day.