Dear Mr. Christy,
This is Teacher Appreciation Day and so you are on my mind.
I wish I could stand next to your grey, steel desk just as I did as a sixth grader and tell you all about the things that have happened. I wish I could tell you that I got the most miraculous call five years ago from my editor, Nancy Paulsen, at Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin who expressed her excitement at my first book being published. I took the call in the parking lot of a grocery store and, upon hanging up, stood with my fists in the air like Rocky. The ride I have taken since with Carley Connors, the main character of that first book, One for the Murphys, has been a dream-I-never-knew-I-had come true.
I know if I actually could tell you about all that’s happened and how different things are for me these days, you wouldn’t cheer loudly. You wouldn’t exclaim and make a big deal. I think you’d take a breath and look me dead in the eye and say that you aren’t surprised. Just as you did when the eleven-year-old me pulled off something unexpected.
Remember how you gave me my first writing award for a poem? That poem now appears in my second book, Fish in a Tree. It was a terrible poem. I knew it at the time as I know it now. It was not award worthy but you deemed it so as an excuse to celebrate me–the child. Not the poet. In Fish in a Tree, Ally Nickerson is offended by this but in real life, I took my seat and watched you go on with the day feeling grateful that you’d been so nice to me. I’ll never forget it. I’ll never forget what you did and I’ll never forget when I figured out why you did it.
I remember the kids in the class who wrote you notes and drew you pictures. How they gave them to you with fanfare. I never once did that. Even at the end of the school year, I never thanked you for all you had done. As an adult looking back, I wish I had said something but I don’t think I had the words then. I was just so…well, ironically perhaps I don’t have the words even now. But one thing was for sure. I didn’t want to leave your room. Most kids are thrilled to see summer come. I was not.
I think you knew that sometimes the kids who needed you the most were the ones who didn’t make a fuss. I assure you that I was quietly grateful and carried the things you did and said into middle school, high school, college, grad school, and right into the editorial offices at Penguin Publishing.
As an adult looking back, I wish I had written you a thank you note, though. I want you to know that I’ve finally written it. It’s 288 pages long and entitled FISH IN A TREE. It’s a love letter to you—to the teacher who first saw me. Who saved me. And all other teachers like you.
Thank you, Mr. Christy. The world—certainly my world—is far better because you were here.
The FANTASTICO winning TEACHER winner will receive:
- A signed hardcover
- An audiobook (CD set) because Mr. Christy was such a great listener (Carley in Murphys notices that “silent” and “listen” have the same letters)
- Wooden nickels (It’s okay to take them…)
- Two lanyards (Be someone’s hero & Great minds don’t think alike)
- Be someone’s hero/GOT GRIT? bracelets
- Fish in a Tree t-shirt (This is a med but I will do my best to accommodate desired shirt size)
- A Skype visit (If our schedules don’t work together I’ll record a video just for you and your kids!)
- Guaranteed priority mailing within 24 hours of receipt of your school mailing address 🙂
- Also – here is access to Teacher’s Guide for Fish in a Tree http://www.penguin.com/static/images/yr/pdf/FishInATree_lessonplans_Final_LR.pdf
Please enter by leaving a comment below with your contact info (twitter handle or e-mail) and/or tweet/retweet with the hashtag #LMHListen . This will help me find your entry. 🙂
Winner will be chosen on Monday, May 11th. Please be able to provide a school mailing address, your grade level, and how many students you have.
FYI, here is yesterday’s giveaway: https://lyndamullalyhunt.wordpress.com/2015/05/04/happy-teacher-appreciation-c-e-l-e-b-r-a-t-i-o-n-day-1/