As the self-published author of Memoirs of an Ordinary Girl: The Middle-ish Ages, I’ve written a chapter book, which is obviously an accomplishment I’m excited about. However, when recently looking through my “box of old stuff” (most of you know what I’m talking about- old school work and creations from your past), I found the original chapter book I wrote.
It happened in second grade. Most of the other kids in my class were terrified of the idea of writing a book, but other than the part where we also had to do our own illustrations, I was stoked! Yes, I loved writing at least as far back as second grade. Drawing was something I enjoyed, but I knew I was not talented in that art medium- not like the kid Jesse in my class who drew the most amazing landscapes with depth of field you ever saw by a second-grader. But even then I was sure my writing abilities made up for my drawing inadequacies.
The assignment: Write an illustrated chapter story beginning with, “Lucky me! I was chosen to take the first trip to the planet Cats-A-Lot.” I threw in weird aliens, a flying cat, and chocolate covered pills for space travel. Looking back now, I see I could have used an editor, but I was six or seven, so I’m going to let that go now.
As a YA writer, I also get questions about what kind of books I liked reading when I was a kid. The first chapter book I read was Judy Blume’s The One in the Middle is the Green Kangaroo and I think I was in third or fourth grade when I read it. I’m also fairly certain I related to that book even if I wasn’t in the middle. I remember feeling so mature and accomplished when I told my friends which chapter I was reading. It was a book picked out of one of those Scholastic book papers we got back in elementary school, the ones where you could also get a free poster of some kind of cute little kitten or puppy if you ordered a certain amount. I had those hanging all over my walls and doors.
From there I moved on to Cleary’s Ramona books, DeClements’ Nothing’s Fair in Fifth Grade, and then Pascal’s many Sweet Valley Twins books. I also had many hand-me-down books from my older sisters. I always had a book in progress. If I was home sick, I read a book. If I had a bad day, I read a book. If I had a good day, I read a book. I couldn’t get enough; I constantly had to get my fix. They were like drugs for my developing mind, only they grew my brain cells instead of killing them. Now, more than anything, I want to see my book and future books as being a part of the readers’ memories when they look back and realize how they connected to my beloved Drew.