Not a prison

Child's drawing of a prison yard with a helicopter overhead.

Dear Mason,

At first, I thought you’d drawn a prison, and I admired your attention to detail. Look at that surveillance helicopter! That watch tower! That razor wire! Then I read your letter, and it turns out, you hadn’t drawn a prison at all, but rather the secret military facility known as Area 51, which is rumoured to house aliens from outer space. So, that’s cool.

This reminds me of how we often see something and jump to conclusions, when, in fact, nothing could be further from the truth. When that happens, there is unusually something fascinating behind the misperception, something to explore and write about.

That said, as we move into 2024 with artificial intelligence used to make up stories, attacks on news organizations and social media spiralling ever downward, if it is revealed that there really are aliens held in Area 51, I would no longer be surprised.

Happy reading. Stay safe.

Jessica

Tree house with ghost and unicorn

Child's drawing of a treehouse shaped like a spaceship

Dear Aarin,

Thank you for your drawing of a tree house. It looks to me as if the leaves are just coming out. It is Spring.

What I especially like is how you’ve filled your small space with imagination. You’re wearing a wonderful warrior uniform, complete with a sword. You’re pals with a multi-colored unicorn. There’s a friendly ghost lurking in the attic. And there seems to be complicated plumbing beneath your feet. What a lovely mix of fantasy, science-fiction, and a how-to manual. This would make a fine cover for a book you might write. Well done, you!

Happy reading,

Jessica

Red bird

Child's drawing of a red bird in the jungle

Dear Danica,

Red is one of my favourite colours. I especially like red shoes, red ladybugs and red maple leaf flags. I do remember you because you asked a question during my author visit to your class. Pro tip: ask a question at anyone’s presentation, and you’ll always be remembered. Authors love questions!

I also remember that I told you my favourite bird is a puffin. They are so funny to watch fly, and the sounds they make are hilarious. Google it! Is that why you guessed that my favourite colours are black, white and orange? Clever you!

Happy reading,

Jessica

Roller coaster

Child's drawing of a roller coaster

Dear Matthew,

Have you tried the roller coaster yet? Your drawing is dizzily accurate!

I rode on one once with a friend whose parents drove us to the fair. It was a long, winding car ride during the high heat of summer, and I felt car sick even before we arrived. Plus, they fed us a boxed lunch at a roadside picnic along the way. We drank grape juice (it was warm) and an egg salad sandwich (plenty of mayonnaise, also warm). I did not care for either, but I politely tried my best. By the time I got on the roller coaster, I was feeling green.

I did manage to go all the way around before I threw up. To this day, I can’t drink grape juice or eat an egg salad sandwich. Still, whenever I have to write about a character who is not feeling well, I can recall precisely that feeling so as to include accurate details.

Happy reading,

Jessica

Big yellow Sun

Hi Judy,

I selected your letter for this week because of the blindingly hot yellow sun you’ve drawn, which is what it feels like right now in Nova Scotia. I just checked the temperature, and it is 31 degrees Celsius in the room of my house where I write. My window is open but only boiling air blows in.

I’m doing okay, but my puppy looks like she is melting in her fur coat. I give her little sponge baths and that seems to help. She also likes to chomp on ice cubes. I’ve been writing really early in the mornings, when it is cooler, and then finding shade to read a book in the afternoon. Are you doing the same?

Happy reading,

Jessica

Summertime mysteries

Dear Savanna,

I’m so glad to hear that you’ve added my mystery novels to your summer reading list and that you are making good use of the library. Libraries are the best, next to museums and galleries I think. I’m also working through my summer reading list, mostly based on what friends have recommended. I like reading well-written books because I hope that reading them will help to make me a better writer.

Have a great summer and happy reading!

Cheers,

Jessica