Happy Birthday, Ally Nickerson. Fish in a Tree Swims into the World.
Well. Today is the day. The launch day of FISH IN A TREE. I can hardly believe it.
On Sunday I had a party. A big party which was the official launch. Many friends and family came from far and wide and lots of hours went into its planning. But there was another launch that took place in Maine. At a small school off the beaten path. The whole thing caught me off guard.
I showed up at the school to do a school visit with fourth and fifth graders. I had been looking forward to it as I love fourth and fifth graders! And the teacher there is pretty awesome too. After meeting a bunch of AWESOME kids I was greeted with THIS:
The kids were excited that an author had come to visit. I spoke about FISH IN A TREE, where it came from and took questions. It was the first time I had spoken in-person to kids about this book. And they asked great questions!
One thing I’d mentioned to them is that there are several changes in the hardcover compared to the advanced reader copy (ARC). Reading the ARC felt like a real book, so I caught some things in it that I hadn’t caught earlier. I added passages here and there. Changed a few things. (One important change is to Albert’s shirt.) The young man in the front row boldly asked–which I loved–what the changes were. And I stood there listing them as they dropped into my head and they reacted to every change. It was cool. THEY are cool.
Okay. So, I had an awesome talk with them. Time flew. Later, I went into the hallway and saw many things I hadn’t seen earlier because they were around corners and such. I mean, really. The hallway was an explosion of FISH IN A TREE stuff. Visually AMAZING. But you know what else? These kids are SMART!
And the thing that is SO COOL about this project is that each character has a written description next to each one. But…if you lift the paper shirt, you see another written description of what he/she is really like on the inside. Because there is a theme in this book of pretending to be one thing when you’re really someone different and learning to own who you really are.
Here are the other characters made by these AMAZING fourth graders!
And Here is Mr. Daniels.
And I LOVE their description of what Mr. Daniels is like on the INSIDE:
So…all of this would have been amazing on its own…but…
A board of writing assignments where the kids had to choose a character from a book other than FISH IN A TREE and compare Ally to its main character. Amazing thinking skills. And this is made out of cloth! cloth! Wow. Below, is just one example but THESE WERE ALL GREAT!
This is Melissa – the teacher who orchestrated all of this! She is amazing, isn’t she? I mean seriously.
But, teachers–no author expects all of this. Not nearly. Most of us are happy if the kids have read our book(s). AND as a teacher, I would NEVER have pulled all of this off. Melissa must have elves. Or a magic wand. Or an extensive behind-the-scenes crew working day and night.
As I left the school, I looked back at this sign on the front door. And thought that is was INDEED a welcome. A big welcome.
I absolutely loved all of the things these kids and Melissa did for my visit to their school. But I can honestly say, I liked their hearts the most. This is a very special community. I find myself missing them as I type this.
As I walked to my car that day, I thought that this would end up feeling like the *official* launch of the book. And after my big party on Sunday which couldn’t have been any better…I still think that this visit was the day Ally Nickerson felt like she’d finally stepped into the world.
Here is a podcast I did with Matthew Winner about the backstory for FISH IN A TREE:
POST to giveaway of signed book, t-shirt, and swag for kids 🙂
Here is the Book Trailer for FISH IN A TREE: