Cynthia Lord visits Washington County

Woodland Elementary School

You know you’re in for a fun day when greeted at the school entrance by a large poster with drawings of characters from Cynthia Lord’s books and the words, “Cynthia Lord, You are a Hot Rod!” This was our welcome to Woodland Elementary School in Baileyville.

Cindy read her books, “Hot Rod Hamster,” “Hamster’s Birthday Party” and “Monster Truck Mania” to kids in grades pre-K to 1. “Vroom vroom” they called as she asked which wheels they would choose.

She was peppered with questions: “Where do you get ideas?” and “Do you think kindergarteners can write a book?” First grade had created a racetrack for their bulletin board complete with colorful, hamster-driven racecars. Cindy gave them all coloring sheets to work on while she personally signed their very own copies of “Hot Rod Hamster” provided by IRW.

We then entered the third-grade classroom where one little girl exclaimed, “Oh, Hi! Hi Cynthia Lord!” She was obviously excited to meet an author. This class had read Cindy’s chapter book, “Shelter Pet Squad,” created posters to promote donations to Paws Brave Hearts Pet Shelter in Calais along with the second grade. The “Pennies for PAWS” posters were spread all over the school and even the nearby high school. Their brightly colored masterpieces helped raise $500 from this generous community! They even made homemade pet toys to take with them and are planning a trip to visit the animals at PAWS soon.

Fourth graders read Cindy’s middle grade novel, “A Handful of Stars.” She spoke with them about how she gets her ideas for stories. For this book, the ideas came from two places; the idea of a black dog and the blueberry barrens in Deblois. After brainstorming a story together about a kid wanting a dog and all the obstacles to overcome to make it happen, Cindy had them write about or draw a pet they’d like to adopt. They asked lots of questions as Cindy signed a book for each child. A fabulous day was had all around.

Indian Township Elementary School

The next day found us a bit further up Route 1 at Indian Township Elementary School, our newest school partner which has welcomed IRW and our author/ illustrator partners with open arms. The day began with Cindy reading “Hot Rod Hamster” to the pre-K class. Cindy got them all engaged by letting them vote on their favorite car, engine and wheels from the illustrations. While lining up to return to class a young boy, hugging his newly signed copy of “Hot Rod Hamster” to his chest, said: “I’m going to show this to Unk. I’m so esited [sic]!” Calls of “woliwon” (thank you) were heard as they made their way out.

Kindergarten and first grade students made a poster with all the adjectives from the book and another with a list of questions for Cindy. They had the loudest shout of “SURPRISE” as they joined in with Cindy’s reading of “Happy Birthday Hamster.” They were adorable, sitting on the floor with their new books, stroking the pages in wonder. As they left with their signed copies, we heard them exclaim, “We get to have a book!”

Fifth graders each drew elaborately decorated bee houses like the ones Selma and Lilly painted in “A Handful of Stars.” One boy entered the room saying, “This is my favorite book!” Cindy gave a slideshow presentation with pictures of the barrens and the houses in which the blueberry harvesters live. One student said that the boy in a picture looked like an old man and Cindy told him, “That is exactly what I do as an author to get ideas – notice what you see.”

Second and third graders read “Shelter Pet Squad,” Cindy’s book about a group of kids volunteering at a pet shelter. This exuberant crew drew wonderful pictures of their favorite animal while Cindy met each of them and signed their copies of her book.

The third grade already visited the shelter in Calais and had a lot of stories and photos to share. They even got to make braided toys for the kitties while they were there! They were so excited to meet Cindy that their teacher had to explain, “They are not usually like this; this is how much they love this book!” She was also very excited to hear Cindy tell the students that she edits her work five to eight times. We all had a fun day at Indian Township School.

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