You’ve done a wonderful job drawing the cover of my latest novel, Clear Skies, about a boy in the 1960s who wants to become an astronomer and is caught up in the excitement of the Space Race to the moon.
I have good news for you. I did retire from my day job, but it was only so that I could write full time and publish more novels. I also now have more time to visit schools and meet students like you! I try to show students how they can find time in their busy schedules to write their own stories.
“Clear skies” is what telescope operators say to each other for good luck. They don’t want clouds or fog blocking their view of the starry universe. So, I’m wishing you clear skies now that the pandemic is over, and we can make the most of this summer!
I chose your lovely letter today because of the trees you’ve drawn. I especially appreciate the bluejays tucked into the highest limbs. I have some of those visiting my small backyard from time to time. Their calls sound like a squeaky clothesline to me. I love writing with nothing but the sounds of birdsong in the background. It helps me concentrate and at the same time, reminds me that I am part of the larger world.
Sadly, a giant maple tree in my backyard must now be taken down. Its limbs have been heavily damaged by the hurricanes we have been hit with, and now the tree poses a danger to the houses in my neighbourhood. It will be such a loss, almost like a beloved pet. We will take great care with the rest of the plants in our yard, and perhaps plant a new tree next to the stump for future generations to enjoy.
Your drawing gives me hope.
I chose your letter because so many children had been stuck at home during the pandemic. Mostly this was fun, but I know that sometimes they just wanted to have their own quiet space or simply go outside and play with friends. And some families live in separate homes, so there were children who hadn’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 favourite 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 I hope is nearly over. I will be so happy to get back into classrooms as a visiting author, to chat with students in person.
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!
Your unicorn is darling with its fancy tail bow. How big are unicorns, anyway? Are they the size of a horse, or more like a pony? Or a donkey? Or a small goat?
Today’s weather was so glorious, I almost think I saw a unicorn while walking my dog in our local woods. I hope you write a story about one. I’m sure your story would make unicorns feel very real to skeptics like me. Your drawing almost has me convinced!
Thanks so much for your drawing of a cardinal, one of my favorite Canadian birds. Their gorgeous orange colour is a real standout against the deep green forest, and I do enjoy the variety of their songs and whistles. One of their calls sounds to me like the cardinal is asking, “Would you eat, would you eat, would you eat peas, peas, peas?”
That’s how I memorize bird songs. I make up words that I think they’re singing. I learned this trick from other birders. When I’m out in the woods, and I hear the question about the peas, I know there’s a cardinal nearby.