The third stop of the Some Writer! Tour with Melissa Sweet involved a ferry trip over from Bass Harbor to Swan’s Island.
Melissa’s presentation at the Swan’s library brought together half a dozen community members and the students from the elementary school. Student projects adorned the library’s walls, such as spider webs and paper mache spiders. A local artist also painted a wall-size barnyard! In the far back room was a wonderful antique typewriter display where kids could write their own letters and stories, just like E.B. White himself.
Melissa shared how the trajectory of E.B. White’s stories for children encompassed, as he himself said, the quest for beauty (Stuart Little), the story of friendship and love & death in Charlotte’s Web and, in Trumpet of the Swan, a love story on many levels: father & son (human & swan,) and a true love story between Louie & Serena.
Workshops at school covered fanciful limericks – the style of writing that the White family enjoyed around the dinner table. Other students were working on researching and developing their own biography stories, so Melissa worked with them on exploring how best to research and represent someone else’s life.
The older students brought many great questions to Melissa during their workshop like, Why all of the eggs in the collages? (E.B. White loved eggs, all kinds), When did E.B. White start writing? (Very young, but published stories in his twenties), and What did E.B. like to do? (be outdoors, bicycles, liked words – believed in freedom to do, go wherever you want).
Ultimately, Melissa shared that what is at the heart of a biography is finding out: what created the defining moment – what made them the person they became?
Frenchboro teacher Jan Keiper, her three students and grandmother chaperone joined the group at Big Cranberry’s newly re-opened Longfellow school to welcome Melissa to their island community. (Thanks to the Sea Coast Mission’s Sunbeam for helping with Frenchboro travel and lodging!)
The entire day’s event took place at the school with the public invited to the morning presentation. There was lots of excitement since the visit brought together school, library, community, and homeschoolers from the islands.
There were Melissa Sweet books out on display and manual typewriters set up in the school for students to use. After some book sales and signing for the public, workshops began for students. Older students had looked at the different beginnings of Charlotte’s Web and ways in which you could tell a story.
Together with Melissa, they created limericks and shared their fanciful words. Younger students got a reading of Melissa’s book Listen to our World, while middle grade students worked on collages inspired by Melissa’s style of artwork throughout many of her books.
After many magazines, scissors, and paste had been cleaned up, the closing circle led by teachers Miss Lauren and Miss Audrey had the students sharing their collages, why they chose to include certain pictures in their piece, and what others saw in the collages about the artist. As Longfellow student Rubye shared, she picked her photos because “ They are just so me!”
A lightening round of reactions from the students about the day ended the circle and included words like, Fun, Full of Excitement, True, Friends, Spectacular, Sound (Typewriter), Radiant, Some Day!
Not a bad way to describe another successful stop on the Some Writer Tour!