Child's drawing of scultping at a desk, bird's eye view.

Stuck at home

Dear Sadie,

I chose your letter because so many children are stuck at home right now with their families for days and days and days on end. Mostly this can be fun, but I know that sometimes they just want to have their own quiet space or simply go outside and play with friends. And some families live in separate homes, so there are children who haven’t seen one of their parents or a grandparent for a very long time, like you.

I really like how you show your dad that you love him, by taking clay and making a sculpture that looks like him. For the rest of us, maybe we could draw someone in our family doing their favorite thing, or write a story about them, and then share what we made with them. I bet that the family member you picked will keep the drawing or the story forever, long past this pandemic that we’re waiting out.

Stay well,

Jessica

Child's drawing of a red bird in the jungle

Red bird

Dear Danica,

Like you, red is my favorite colour. I especially like red shoes, red wine and red maple leaf flags. I do remember you because you asked a question during my presentation. Pro tip: ask a question at anyone’s presentation and you’ll always be remembered.

I also remember that I told you my favorite bird is a puffin. Is that why you guessed that my favorite colours are black, white and orange? Clever you!

Happy reading,

Jessica

Child's drawing of a starry sky featuring Mars and a Canadian flag

Mars

Dear Emma,

I love your dramatic starry sky – so aggressive! I can feel the weight of all that massive, empty space.

It is very considerate of you to think about what a privilege it would be to land on Mars, given that the rest of us won’t get the chance. Still, you shouldn’t feel too bad. There are plenty of artists, including writers, who will happily share their imagination about experiences that many of us will never have.

And that’s the next best thing, right?

Happy reading,

Jessica

Child's drawing of an American robin in a tree. Not to scale.

American robin

Dear Chris,

Do you mind if I call you Chris? Your American robin is wonderful. They do like trees, but I’ve seen even more on the ground in search of worms and other bugs for their next meal.

How do robins hunt for worms? Worms must be hard to find, right? I read that robins mostly use their very good vision. They can spot the tiny end of a worm as it pokes out of the dirt. They can also see small changes in grass as worms move about just below the surface, which tells them that a worm is there. To be sure, they tilt their head to better see with one eye. Then they strike.

They also have very good hearing. As worms wiggle about, they move soil so that small bits of dirt rub together. This makes noise that is way too faint for us to hear, but it’s easy-peasy for robins. I’ll be excited to see them come back this Spring. Look out, worms!

Happy reading,

Jessica

Child's drawing of birds and a tree

Geese

Dear Naomi,

Your letter really makes me think. I love it. You must have been in one of the junior kindergarten classes I visited this past year. Those classes were lots of fun.

I especially like your drawing of the goose. Birders would say that you nailed the GISS (which stands for general impression of size and shape). Your bluejay is also nicely drawn with its three little chicks in the tree. You must spend a lot of time with bird-watchers. You’ve got an eagle-sharp eye!

Well done, you!

Happy reading,

Jessica

Child's drawing of an alien space craft flying over Earth

100,000 pages

Dear Elijah,

I enjoyed your letter very much. I like mystery novels, too. I haven’t kept track of the number of pages I’ve ever read, but I’m impressed with your number: 100,000! That’s staggering! You’re only eight years old! I did some math. On average, you’ve read 12,500 pages per year or approximately 62 books if each book is around 200 pages, like the last one I wrote. I hope you have your very own library card.

Have you started to write your story about aliens?

Happy reading,

Jessica

Children's drawing of a tree house with a yellow slide

Yellow slide

Dear Casey,

I’m very fond of your jaunty tree fort with its yellow slide against a dramatic and blowsy sky. I especially like that you’ve included some important safety features: a strong roof as well as smoke detectors. You mention you have nice manners and are a good hockey player. What a wonderful combination! I hope you like to read, too.

Happy holidays,

Jessica



Child's drawing of a roller coaster

Roller coaster

Dear Matthew,

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

I went 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 a bit sick even before we arrived at the fair. Plus, they fed us a boxed lunch on the way, which was grape juice (it was warm) and an egg salad sandwich (plenty of mayonnaise). 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

Child's drawing of a girl walking a dog on the lawn with the sun shining

Walking the dog

Dear Elyse,

You remind me very much of my sister who is a vet, and she rescues and trains animals all the time. She is very kind.

My dog pulls all her toys (there are many) out of her basket and works hard to evenly distribute them throughout the house. I want to train her to put her toys away when playtime is over, but she just doesn’t get it. Why should she put her toys away when she spends so much of her day making sure they are evenly distributed? Sometimes I think it might be easier if I just picked up her stuff myself. I should probably sign out and read a few training books from my library. And stop buying more toys.

Happy reading,

Jessica

Child's drawing of an angel and a devil

Angels and devils

Dear Kassidy,

I selected your letter this week because Halloween is coming up and your drawing caught my attention. I hope that lots of children come to our door in terrific costumes like the ones you’ve drawn. Drawing your parent dressed like a giant is also brilliant!

Then I read your letter. You weren’t drawing costumes at all! You were illustrating a terrific story idea. I hope you do write it. It would make a truly spooky story, also good for Halloween!

Boo!
Jessica