I get letters.
Handwritten letters, mostly, written by readers, teachers, and parents. I get emails now, too, of course, which come to me through my website. I’ve always answered all of the mail I’ve gotten regarding my books. I read once that Maurice Sendak answered all his and figured if he could do it, so could I. The letters I get are blissful to read. I currently have a few bulging pouches and some loose letters on my desk, waiting for replies.
Some of the letters come after online visits. They really help anchor those virtual experiences for me. I’ve been doing school visits for over twenty years, online visits for a few. During the latter, I don’t get the pleasure of meeting readers in person, wandering their halls, dropping into their classrooms or cafeterias, or popping outside to the playground, nor can I sign books for them. The letters help make up for all this. (I do offer to sign and send books, though, through my local bookshop—the glorious Imprint Books, in Port Townsend.)
I “visited” a school in Seattle in April, and later received a manila envelope bursting with letters from second graders. As I read through them, I found exquisite bon mots in each, and thought a post consisting of them might delight others as much as they do me. I’ve added remarks from letters from a reading group composed of fourth and fifth graders in El Cerrito, California, to boot.
Note: These are all as-is. I did spruce up some spelling and punctuation. Otherwise they’re completely sic.
“I really liked reading and meeting you, especially asking you questions.”
“Can you please send me a picture of Guinea Dog 2 and 3?”
“My favorite part was everything. It was very cool.”
“I was one of the people who talked.”
“I love your whole book.”
“How old are you?”
“My author question is do you have a dog or a guinea pig?”
“Have you ever cleaned up guinea pig pee and poo?”
“Why did you want your book to be funny?”
“I loved your book. It inspired me to make a book, too.”
“I have a lot of favorite books, and this is my third place favorite book.”
“I really like Guinea Dog because that book is the first book I have ever read that made me laugh out loud.”
“I would like to ask you if you would like to do stuff in Guinea Dog.”
“I would also like to ask, ‘Is one of your brothers an author, too, and did he make Actual Size’?”
“How much have you read this book yourself?”
“I liked you book since it was so funny! Oh and did I tell you that I’m the funniest person in my family?”
“I want an author when I grow up. I want a guinea pig now.”
“I love to write and read. What’s your favorite thing to do?”
“P.S. We had you as a spelling word.”
“I think you did a really good job on basically all your books even though I haven’t read all of them.”
“Can you make There’s a GIRL in the BOY’s Bathroom?”
“Did your parents inspire you or did the sounds or looks of nature?”
“My teacher is so funny, silly, and cool. Do you remember how your teacher was?”
“My little cousin likes your book. She laughed so hard I had to stop for her to stop laughing.”
“I’m Mexican, but I don’t speak Spanish that much. My mom says I have to learn Spanish but I don’t want to because I want to learn Japanese.”
“Do you want to be an only child?”
“What college did you go to and which colleges do you recommend?”
“Do you like art? What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream? Are most artists neat? Do you get a lot of time for vacation?”
“Can I call you Mr. J? I hope so because I like that name.”
“P. S. My oldest friend moved to Conneticut. It’s very sad. P. S. How do you spell Conneticut?”
“You are the best writer that I know.”
Okay. Time to get to answering the letters.