A to Z: Works in progress that make third-graders laugh

Throughout April, I’m tackling 26 A to Z topics related to children’s literature. For W day, I had the chance to visit McKinley Elementary and talk about my works in progress, among other topics. Here’s a glimpse at what’s in the works from my pen.

Today I had the fantastic opportunity to speak to the third-grade classes at McKinley Elementary School in Ottawa. (The one in Illinois, not Canada. I’ve had to clarify that on Twitter more times than I can count.)

We had a stellar hour of honoring two winners in the Sarah & Katy essay contest, a Q&A session, and talking about my two-step formula to be a writer.

But the best part of the presentation, by far, was when we talked about my WIPs (works in progress). There are two books in the works right now — the first is “The Mountain of Dempsey Molehill,” which has a tentative release date of summer 2017, and the other doesn’t have a release date set.

During the presentation this afternoon, I talked about incidents that inspired both WIPs. “The Mountain of Dempsey Molehill” is all about the mischief of five siblings and the function of a semi-dysfunctional family. (If you can manage to imagine it, think The Addams Family mashed with Richard Peck’s “A Long Way From Chicago” — yup, it’s wacky.) The original inspiration for that work comes from a family story — which is practically family legend — about the time Uncle Fred decided to build an elephant trap.

Meanwhile, the inspiration for the other book (currently untitled) comes from my rowdy childhood bus route. From trying to tip the bus over to sneaking snow on the bus for a snowball fight, there’s a lot of inspiration to be found in childhood experiences and incidents.

The elephant trap anecdote sparked a lot of laughter from the McKinley third-grade crew, and the snowball fight story elicited both laughter and oh-man-they’re-in-trouble “ooooohs” from the crowd. They were a perfect test audience for the plots … and it was an ego boost when one student asked when and where she could buy the book with the elephant trap chapter.

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2 Responses to A to Z: Works in progress that make third-graders laugh

  1. stephie5741 says:

    You learn SO much through school visits. It’s actually a great way to feed your mind so that you can go back to your WIP and make it that much stronger.



  2. Jemima Pett says:

    That’s great – I’m looking forward to the elephant trap book, too!
    Jemima Pett


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