Blue jay

Child's drawing of a treehouse and a 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

Helicopter on Mars

Child's self-portrait as an astronaut 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

Solar eclipse

Dear Grayson,

I chose your letter today because of your awesome drawing of a celestial body in space. Yesterday, North America had a full solar eclipse. Where I live, the moon was projected to cover 94% of the sun’s light at around 3:30 in the afternoon. Around that time, we would experience something approaching darkness. We knew it wouldn’t get as dark as places where there would be a full 100% eclipse, but 94% seemed close enough.

So, I made a pinhole camera, and we headed out to the Atlantic coast near Peggy’s Cove (which has a famous lighthouse, but that’s another story). Anyway, we waited for the big event, and carefully checked the moon’s progress using my homemade pinhole camera.

It was very exciting to see the moon cutting into the sun as predicted. It slowly creeped across, but we didn’t experience a change in light. After some time (it felt like ages), the shadow of the moon got smaller, and the sun came out again. We experienced nothing. NOTHING!

That doesn’t make for much of a story, does it? We came home deflated. I was able to watch the full eclipse that happened elsewhere on the news last night, but that is not at all the same. My only positive takeaway is to try to remember exactly how disappointed I felt about this once-in-a-lifetime event, and to use that feeling of disappointment in a new story I’ll someday write.

It’s not much. But it’s something. I guess. The next full solar eclipse will be in 2044.

Don’t miss it.

Happy reading,

Jessica

Global warming

A child's drawing of car pollution

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 hardly any snow on the ground. When I first moved here a number of years ago, there would have been giant snow piles where sidewalks and roads had been cleared. There would have been plenty of snow to play in and make snow forts. Now I can’t remember when there was enough ice for outdoor skating.

I hope that we all keep our shared environment in mind with everything we do.

Stay well,

Jessica

Beanbag chair

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

Tree fort day

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

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, and my window isn’t even open!

I hope you write a story about what happens in your tree fort. I’m sure you’ll make your readers laugh out loud. A tree fort day sounds as wonderful as a snow day (when school is cancelled because of blizzard conditions).

Happy reading,

Jessica