Teacher Appreciation C E L E B R A T I O N #2: A Thank You Letter–Albeit Late


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 Icover with frame 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.

6th grade me with frame   Love,

Lynda Mullaly










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

teacher giveaway

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/

Categories: Fish in a Tree, Nancy Paulsen Books (Penguin), Teachers/Teaching, teaching | 121 Comments

The Velveteen Rabbit Wears Converse?

I have such a daunting “to-do list” that I really shouldn’t be blogging today, but life has tapped me on the shoulder. So, here I am. On the one week birthday of One for the Murphys.

Shortly after ONE FOR THE MURPHYS (and Converse-wearing Carley Connors) went under contract, my big brother, Rick, asked me what I hoped for in terms of being a children’s author. I suppose he expected the typical answer—big sales or major awards. I thought for a second and said, “I hope my books will make a difference to kids. I want them to carry them in their backpacks and make a mess of them with marked passages, bent covers, and dog-eared pages.” (Velveteen Rabbit kinds of books, I now call them.) Ricky got that wry smile that we share and said, “You know, you sound just like Mum?” We laughed. Because I really did.

A series of things has occurred lately that have given me an idea of the stunning power behind this author thing. Not power as in control—power as in the human connection. The ability to make a difference. I have been so moved by some of it that I have not shared anything online until today.

First of all, while attending a recent big children’s literature event, I met an author that I have admired for years. She has earned a handful of major awards and that’s cool—SO cool! But it is her writing, her gift for story-telling and her voice—a voice that reverberates and characters that long linger that really floors me. She stood in front of my table, holding my ARC of Murphys and you know what? It was a mess. Bent cover, dog-eared pages. It was fantastic!

Turns out that her daughter has read it three times and has carried it in her backpack. I was so touched by this—and touched that she would bring it to show me. In terms of who she is, I admit that I gushed a bit more than was socially acceptable (okay–it wasn’t *that* bad!) over this author; she is such a gifted writer and a super, down-to-earth person. Loved meeting her! I Promise to keep my feet on the floor and speak in complete sentences the next time we meet.

Recently, I also had a school visit that dreams are made of for someone who wants to help children with her writing. It was supposed to be 45-minutes but ran two hours. When I finally left, a group of about seven kids followed me into the hallway, asking me light-hearted questions. However, when they were called back,  one child lingered and the conversation that followed gives me chills as I type this now. I’ll never forget that child’s words—or the tone of them. A braid of resilience and weariness and pleading. How we talked about how letting people help you is part of being strong. About seeing yourself as a conqueror rather than a victim.

This visit was followed by the arrival of the most thoughtful, detailed, pensive, creative, funny batch of letters ever. True. It’s the first batch I have received, but I can’t imagine ever receiving a better stack of letters. I responded by telling those kids I’d keep them forever and ever—and I will.

And so today I woke up to a blog post of a fellow writer and friend. I won’t paraphrase because she told the story better than I could. But, I hope you’ll read it.


Upon reading this, the awesome Brian Lies wrote, “I think you’ve just been touched by the magic of WRITING books, Lynda (as compared to being a reader of them). When you send one out into the world, it travels to places you’d never find, and meets people you might never encounter—including people who embrace your work the way you’ve embraced YOUR very favorite books.”

I guess I knew in my head what this would be like—but I never imagined how it would feel in my heart.

Categories: Be Someone's Hero, Book Review, courage, inspiring, One for the Murphys, teaching, writing | 9 Comments

The Teacher Becomes the Learner

This teacher learned a most essential writing lesson by teaching children:

Categories: teaching, writing | Leave a comment

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: