On Monday I had the privilege of welcoming Kurtis Scaletta author of Mudville into my my classroom. The kids were excited. The week before I had read the prologue of the book to them and told them his next book included a black mamba. They were even more excited after that. Before he came I had them write questions on an index card, so they were prepared ahead of time. You can see a picture below of the stack they came up with!
What I think they liked the most was that he asked them for help with his writing. He put the word VERISIMILITUDE on the Smartboard and explained to them what it means (do you know???). It means making something seem real even if it's not real or even possible. Like Harry Potter - it's not real and it's not possible, but it seems real. What he needed from them was what it was like being a 7th grader right now in 2009. He needed to know this from them so when he wrote about characters that were in the 7th grade he could create verisimilitude.
After that he talked about the publishing process even showing them drafts of his story. He passed around the draft with copy edits. I loved that they got to see even published authors made grammar and typing mistakes! I think the sheer length of the story typed out was super impressive to them. We also learned about his new book coming out in 2010 named Mamba Point. The story is about a boy who moves to Africa and befriends a very poisonous snake. When they found out this boy keeps the black mamba in his laundry hampter, their mouths dropped open. Throughout this all, he answered any questions they had. I knew the kids were interested because they came up with lots of interesting things to ask.
I give a huge shout out to Kurtis Scaletta for being brave enough to face 90 7th graders (ok 30 at a time) on a two day week right before Thanksgiving break! And I'm so glad you gave my students the opputunity to see more of the writing and publishing process. Thank you!