Child's drawing of a treehouse and a blue jay

Blue jay

Dear Austin,

I really enjoyed your drawing of a Blue jay. They are part of the corvid family of birds (along with crows, ravens, magpies and nutcrackers), and I read that members of this family are thought to be some of the most intelligent and curious species of animals in the world. They are very popular at the park where I walk with my dog. I hear them all the time making a big racket when we pass by. To me, they make a sound like the squeaky wheel of a clothesline.

It looks like you’re having fun in your tree house watching the Blue jay. You have a little table set up with drinks and a skylight up above. How cozy! Is that a birdwatching book you’re holding? I bet it is.

Happy reading,

Jessica

Child's self-portrait as an astronaut on Mars

Helicopter on Mars

Dear Vikesh,

I so enjoyed your self-portrait of you as an astronaut on Mars. The classic moon-with-craters and the fiery sun in the sky are nice details, especially with the very creative size-scale you’ve chosen.

Have you been keeping up with the latest developments on Mars? I was thrilled to watch the recent helicopter flight. It must be very lonely on Mars, especially after such a long flight to get there, so I’m glad Perseverance now has a little buddy to help explore the red terrain.

Happy reading,

Jessica

A child's drawing of car pollution

Global warming

Dear Leroy,

I also believe in global warming, mostly because of my deep appreciation of science, nurtured by a solid public education, as well as observing the daily evidence around me.

For example, I just came back from walking my dog Ivy at the park. It’s February as I write, and there’s plenty of snow on the ground. Yet, an insect flew by us. An insect! In February! Deep snow all around! As much snow as we recently saw in Texas. Texas!

That’s messed up.

I hope we can now work with other countries to push the environment to the top of everyone’s agenda.

Stay well,

Jessica

Child's drawing of a classroom with desk, bookshelves and beanbag chair

Beanbag chair

Dear Getruda,

Your teacher sounds wonderful, creating such a welcoming reading space in your class and stocking it with books and comfortable beanbag chairs. I’m so honoured to have one of my books included in your classroom. Thanks so much for sharing your love of reading with me.

Stay well,
Jessica

Child's drawing of a tree fot with lots of colours

Tree fort day

Dear Soia,

It looks like you are having an exciting, fun-filled time with your brother in this tree fort. I can imagine all the shenanigans that you both are up to in this scene. I bet you’re making lots of noise, too! I can hear your laughter all the way from here.

I hope you write a story about what happens in your tree fort. I’m sure you’ll make your readers laugh.

Happy reading,

Jessica

Child's drawing of a rocket blasting across Mars

Mars with rocket

Dear Irene,

I absolutely love your drawing. The design is so bold, the lines so clean, the movement so dynamic! This would make an excellent T-shirt design, or the cover for a sci-fi novel, or the mission badge for the first-ever team going to Mars. I hope you are considering a career as a graphic designer when you grow up.

As to your question, which of my books do I like the best, I would have to say it is the one I am working on right now, which isn’t even published. I’m still working on the last two chapters, and it is only the first draft, but I’m having a blast writing it.

Happy reading,
Jessica

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

Not a prison

Dear Mason,

In searching through the letters I’ve received this past year to select my final one to post for 2020, I came across your drawing.

At first, I thought you’d drawn a prison, and I admired your attention to detail. Look at that surveillance helicopter! That razor wire! It reminded me of how I’ve been feeling, so cooped-up in my house these past nine months during the pandemic. Then I read your letter, and it turns out, you hadn’t drawn a prison, but rather the secret military facility known as Area 51. Further, you’d like to visit Area 51 in the hopes of seeing some aliens from outer space, where, as rumour has it, they can be found. So, that’s cool.

Still, I returned to my previous thoughts of feeling like a prisoner, and then I realized that I was being ridiculous. I’m surrounded by all my favourite things, I’ve stayed in touch with close family members and friends, and I have a charming dog that gets me out on daily walks.

I decided to choose your letter for my last post of 2020 anyway. This has been such an unbelievable and difficult year. If it is revealed that there really are aliens held in Area 51, I would no longer be surprised.

Happy reading. Stay safe. Let’s look forward to 2021.

Jessica

Child's drawing of Earth and the Moon with an astronaut

The Moon has water

Dear Evan,

I really appreciate the wonderful details you’ve added to your drawing, including Neil Armstrong’s footprints on the Moon’s dusty surface. Isn’t it fun to know that those footprints are still there, undisturbed, even though it has been fifty years since the first astronauts landed.

I just learned that water has been discovered on the Moon. Imagine that. I wondered if it would taste exactly the same as here. So I googled it. Turns out that the water on Mars is predicted to be very salty. No word yet on the Moon, but chances are it wouldn’t be pure enough to drink. Chemicals from the Moon’s surface along with meteoroids are likely mixed in with lunar H2O.

All that to say, there’s no place like home. Stay well, and happy reading.

Jessica

Child's drawing of a cast of characters for a proposed novel

Full cast

Dear Penny,

I’m convinced you’ll be the next author under 30 in Canada. You’ve already developed a fine cast of characters. Of course, they are pre-pandemic, standing so close to each other, but still. You have hinted at plenty of drama in your labels.

When looking for a publisher, it is best to find one that has produced books similar to the one you have written. You can do that by doing some research at your library. Your librarian might also be able to help if you describe the type of book you are looking for. Then it is a matter of seeing who published those books on their copyright page.

I wish you the best. Happy reading and writing, and do stay safe.

Cheers,

Jessica

PS I don’t work at a fancy-pants hotel either.

Child's drawing of a photograph of time spent with dad

Click!

Dear Noa,

Thank you so much for sharing a happy memory of the time you and your dad spent working on a project together. I love how you’ve captured that moment with your drawing of a photograph of that moment. Sometimes, it is difficult to sort through and decide which moments will matter over time, and which ones turn out to be not important, even forgettable.

I say, hang on to happy memories because they will serve you the best in times of uncertainty.

Stay well, and happy reading,

Jessica