This is a tandem blog post in cooperation with my colleague Brent Peterson (@BrentJPeterson) who blogs at Peterson’s Place.
Over the summer, Kim Krug at Monkey See, Monkey Do…Children’s Bookstore asked us if we were interested in Skyping with another author in September or October. (We had just Skyped with Tom Angleberger at our Fortune Wookiee release party.) This author was going to be releasing her book in paperback and was promoting it with Skype visits.
“What book?” we asked.
And she sent us a link with information about Bigger Than a Breadbox by Laurel Snyder.
Like we hadn’t already read it, right? Of course we had, because it was talked about so much on the Nerdy Book Club blog.
We smiled and said, “We’re in!”
We decided that we didn’t want this to be a just-kids thing. So as we readied the order forms with Monkey See, we were intentional about inviting parents to read the book with their children. We even included some research about the power of parents and children reading and discussing a book together.
Students and parents purchased about 30 copies. It was so exciting to see copies of Breadbox being carried around the hallways. We’d constantly ask kids, “What part are you on?” and see their faces light up as they talked about fries and gravy, a certain coat, and a spoon. We nodded and smiled.
We invited parents and students who read the book to a before-school book club the week before the Skype. Though we were hopeful that more would attend, it was awesome to have parents and kids join us to share their insights into Breadbox. We quickly burned through 45 minutes and barely scratched the surface.
Finally, we were ready for the BIG EVENT—our after-school Skype session with Mrs. Snyder. The room filled up with students and parents, and things were quickly underway. Here is the introduction we wrote:
“Is it bigger than a bread box?” is a common line used in 20 questions, guess-the-object type games. It is fun. Innocent.
Ms Snyder, your book Bigger Than a Breadbox was supposed to be about a fun, magical bread box.
But your book is so much bigger than a breadbox. Somehow you managed to take a simple object from a simple game and you packed it full of major life issues.
About 30 students, teachers, and parents read this book. Some of the conversations about Babecca… I mean Rebecca and her family have been illuminating. Each reader offers new insights into the characters and their situation. Each conversation reveals new layers to this complex plot.
Ms. Snyder, thank you for taking the time to Skype with us today to share your experiences as a writer and to further illuminate Bigger Than a Breadbox. We are honored that you would join us for this conversation.
Mrs. Snyder was awesome! Everyone was very engaged as we got to hear her describe what it was like for her growing up and how everything lead to where she currently is. She was very interesting to listen to, and our kids had a lot to take away from the session. Hearing her describe her struggles to get published and her perseverance and eventual success was inspirational. The parents in attendance were happy that they were able to attend and listen to an outstanding author talk about a book that they read and enjoyed.
We were also fortunate to be able to ask some questions about Bigger Than a Bread Box. It was very cool to hear Mrs. Snyder give us her thoughts about some of the ideas in the book. Students asked her questions such as the meaning behind seagulls, or if the spoon held some sort of symbolism. Mrs. Snyder’s answers were thoughtful and made our kids feel very proud about their questions.
We asked students to share their reactions to Mrs. Snyder’s Skype:
“…I learned about how much the author’s past life is put in a book and how much time and effort is put into a book that has a connections with the main character and you. I also got to see other people’s perspectives about the book. The Skype session with Laurel Snyder was really cool and I would definitely do it again any time.”
“I liked how we got to hear their story and where they came from.”
“I think it was really awesome because you actually ge to see the author live and ask questions. In my opinion, I think the school should do this more often.”
“I really liked the Skype. I hope I can do it again. I liked how she explained how she became a writer.”
“I liked the stories she told and how she answered the questions. She was so kind telling the story about her parents getting divorced and what she did when she ‘went to school.’ She really ran off to go to the library. It is cool that she still has the journal she wrote in when she was bored.”
“I really liked the Skype with Laurel Snyder. My favorite part was when she told us the story of how she became an author. I think it’s a good story to tell kids when their self-esteem is low.”
“It was so cool. The author talked about her life and how she became an author. The best part was when she answered my question about if the spoon was supposed to represent love. She said she never looked at it that way before, but it’s something to think about.”
“One thing I took away was that she never gave up. That really said something for me emotionally and spiritually. That after 49 tries she didn’t give up. After 8 years of trying to get published she finally released her first book. That gave her hope to never give up.”
“I thought it was really cool how she kept on trying when her book got rejected 49 times. Also that her and her friend loved to write when they were kids because me and my friend Emileigh Love to make up fantasy characters for stories.”
“I learned that when I love something so much that I should never give up. That it is not always easy to do what you want.”
Thank you again to Laurel Snyder for her time as well as for her excellent presentation and thoughtful responses. She has definitely won a large group of life-long fans. We all can’t wait for her next book!