Ellen Potter at Pembroke, Jonesport and Beals

Fairy trees, imaginary apartments, and creative inventions greeted IRW and author Ellen Potter during a whirlwind tour of three schools in Washington County. The first stop was at Pembroke Elementary where projects based on her three books (“Piper Green and the Fairy Tree,” “Olivia Kidney” and “Slob”) adorned the hallways and classrooms.

The pre-K to Grade 2 group heard a bit from Ellen’s latest book, “Big Foot and Little Foot” to which one kindergartner proclaimed, “My dad has a big foot!’ Older students designed apartments and rooms based on the strange living habits of the characters in “Olivia Kidney.”

While discussing the art of writing with Ellen, some students spoke about their own writing habit, “I like to write because it inspires me to go forward ….[with my dream],” and another proclaimed, “Writing takes you to a whole different world.” We couldn’t agree more. The Pembroke visit was topped off with a Literacy and Math night where we got to share tales of the day with parents.

Jonesport Elementary was next where the pre-K-kindergarten group had made a huge wall fairy tree with treasures to be left in the fairy tree. The whole display was made as a family project with parents and kids doing everything from twisting the branches, to sewing the kitten that gets stuck in the tree in the story, to ornate fairy villages. On the fairy trading cards that they created with Ellen, they came up with all sorts of super powers from super vision, very fast, invisible, and love, to super slow! Of course IRW also loved the super power of a pencil so that one could draw or write whatever they needed to be safe.

A second grader was heard to say, “I never thought I’d meet a real author!” to which Ellen replied, “I never thought I’d meet a student from Jonesport!” With older students, Ellen reiterated that you can start writing at any time; you don’t need to wait till you’re a certain age. She also reminded them not to talk themselves into a negative tail spin; go for a walk, move, change your scenery and refresh – good advice for us all.

There was a real tea party awaiting us on day three at Beals Elementary. Pre-K-kindergarten students and parents welcomed us with a proper tea, tablecloths, cookies and of course a fairy house diorama and lively questions for Ellen.

Students in grades 1-2 are budding writers and had drawn and described their own tree, tidal pool or bedroom! Such is life on an island!

Grades 3 & 4 read “Olivia Kidney” closely and had terrific questions for Ellen about the characters, apartment living, about writing about what you don’t know, and what most shocked them!

“Slob” book discussion brought up the reasons for the main protagonist, Owen, doing what he did in the book and students realized that perhaps it was his way of letting go of his sadness. As prep for Ellen’s visit they had watched some of the retro TV shows mentioned in the story, had taken online IQ tests, and talked about appropriate height and weight – all elements of “Slob.” Another student shared, “I like when authors start the story with something that grabs you…mystery” — like Ellen.

All three of these schools, and two schools that Ellen visited last fall, are participating in a new IRW project, WordCraft, where they can opt in to work on an online platform to hone their writing and connect with further with Ellen. We can’t wait to see what these budding writers come up with as our pilot group of WordCrafters!

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