Mars

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

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

American robin

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

Dear Christopher,

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. It would be like wiggling your toes under a blanket. 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

Geese

Child's drawing of birds and a tree

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 of the bird). Your bluejay is also nicely drawn with its three little chicks in the tree. You’ve got an eagle-sharp eye! I think you must spend a lot of time with birdwatchers and/or authors. Both are always on the lookout for details to notice and remember.

Well done, you!

Happy reading,

Jessica

100,000 pages

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

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 about a young astronomer. I hope you have your very own library card.

Have you started to write your story about aliens?

Happy reading,

Jessica

Yellow slide

Children's drawing of a tree house with a 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

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