SHE LOVES CHILDREN SO SHE’S WELCOME HERE…BETTE A. STEVENS!!!
Writing and Illustrating a Picture Book
AMAZING MATILDA was so much fun to write and illustrate. It’s even more fun to interact with my young readers now that my book is published and in their hands. Here is a photo of the Thank You Letters sent to me from fourth grade students last fall and the letter that I wrote back to these amazing students:
November 12, 2013
Dear Mrs. Glynn & Fourth Graders,
I was thrilled to check my mailbox last week and find your wonderful Thank You Letters. They really made my day. Your notes and illustrations are fantastic. There is nothing that makes an author happier than hearing from her fans. I’m so glad that you enjoyed AMAZING MATILDA. I definitely enjoyed meeting all of you, reading my book and answering your thoughtful questions about writing and illustrating books. It was also wonderful to have the opportunity to discuss the monarch butterfly’s life cycle and its endangered habitat. I took a picture of your letters and thought you’d like to see it. So, here it is!
I keep a file called MY SMILE FILE and all of your amazing letters will be tucked right into it. That way, on gloomy days when I need a smile, I can read your letters and think of ALL OF YOU—Mrs. Glynn and her amazing fourth grade students!
I included both of my children’s books in the photo. You’ll find copies in your school library. To answer a few of your questions: Yes, I will be back to read to you again. My favorite genre is historical fiction. Nature and human nature (people) are the things that inspire me to write my books. I’ll be posting this letter on my website/blog http://www.4writersandreaders.com
Happy reading, writing and all of those other amazing things that you all do,
Bette A. Stevens, MAINE AUTHOR ILLUSTRATOR
Why, Oh Why, A Butterfly?
After I read AMAZING MATILDA, the kids had excellent questions about writing, illustrating and publishing a book. They found out that research was essential for both the story and the illustrations. They also learned that this story was written, edited and rewritten many times. We talked about a story needing a plot (a beginning, a middle, an end and a problem to be solved). We had a chance to discuss some of the TOOLS in a WRITER’S TOOL BOX—consonance and assonance (repetitive consonant and vowel sounds that help to make reading fun), vocabulary, metaphors and similes, repetition. We also had the opportunity to discuss the story’s characters and the parts they played: AMAZING MATILDA (hatching from her egg as the story begins) dreams of flying SPARROW (a bird who encourages MATILDA to follow her instincts) “DON’T BIRDS EAT CATERPILLARS?” one of the students asked. That’s when we had the opportunity to talk about milkweed (the monarch caterpillar’s only food source). Milkweed gives the monarch’s their color and it is poisonous (not deadly poison, but it does make birds vomit so they learn to stay away from monarchs during any stage of life cycle development). TOAD and RABBIT (friends who hop up onto the ledge near MATILDA where they can see the whole world). These friends are not Matilda’s friends at first. They laugh hysterically at a creature who has no wings but wants to fly. But then, they remember that they couldn’t leap or hop onto this very ledge when they were younger. They had to keep trying— it took a lot of hard work and time (persistence and patience) before they could sit on top of the ledge and see the whole world anytime they pleased. (These characters gave the class a chance to talk about teasing and bullying.)Toad and Rabbit tell MATILDA all about their challenges and keep reminding her that if she keeps trying, she will be able to do all of the things that she really wanted to do.(Now we get to talk about friendship.)
So why did I choose a butterfly? MATILDA’S not just any butterfly—she’s a monarch butterfly! Monarch butterflies and other pollinators such as bees and hummingbirds are indicators of how healthy our environment is. The monarch, indigenous to The Americas, is the only butterfly species known to migrate. They travel from the Northern US and Canada to over-winter in California and Mexico and these magnificent creatures are disappearing at alarming rates. Why? There are many reasons for this decline:
• Current agricultural practice
• Genetically modified crops
• Pesticide use
• Loss of habitat
• Destruction of larval host plant by Roundup and other weed killers
Weed killers are a major concern since they are destroying the only food that monarch caterpillars will eat and they are also adversely affecting farm crops harvested for human consumption.
What can we do? Monarch butterflies are extremely resilient and their decline can be reversed. But, for that to happen, we’ve got to save the milkweed!
• Plant native milkweed
• Provide nectar plants
• Avoid pesticides
• Report your monarch observations
Find out more about protecting monarch butterflies and print out your FREE POSTER at http://www.learner.org/jnorth/tm/monarch/conservation_action.html
And don’t forget to visit my website to download your FREE FUN & LEARNING WITH MONARCHS (A companion piece that I put together for AMAZING MATILDA). You’ll find awesome links (See poster below) to Amazing Monarch facts, crafts, games, coloring pages, gardening tips, teachers’ guides and more at http://4writersandreaders.com/fun-learning-with-monarchs-2/