The Heart Is Not a Size/retold and illustrated by a dear reader

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Yesterday at Villa Maria Academy I worked with 42 beautiful eighth graders—building writing exercises out of picture books, collectively pooling words for poems that would have made William Carlos Williams proud, studying some of the many ways that a story can begin.

Schools are supposed to teach many things.  In this classroom love is clearly a curriculum component.  There were future special education teachers in the mix, young women deeply concerned about world peace, students magnanimously enthused about a classmate's striking literary gifts, at least one dancer, and readers who did not need to be introduced to Ruta Sepetys or Kathryn Erskine.  They had found these authors on their own.

At the end of the session one student shared with me her winter project—a report of sorts on THE HEART IS NOT A SIZE, my Juarez novel. She had told my story in her own words and created beautiful accompanying illustrations, and when she got to the page that introduced the little girl whom I had based on the child photographed here, I stopped.  The likeness—the dark hair, the orange sleeveless shirt with the little bow—was so absolute that it seemed as if the Villa Maria student had traveled those dusty roads with us.

I rather wish she had.  I would have enjoyed her company.


bermudaonion said...

This brought tears to my eyes. There are so many kids out there doing so many good things

Serena said...

This is so wonderful...You must have felt so rewarded.

Lilian Nattel said...

I love to hear stories like this--they are the future.

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