IRW was pleased to assist bringing students in grades 3-5 from Isle au Haut and Monhegan islands virtually together with Maine author and illustrator, Melissa Sweet. The kids had read Melissa’s illustrated biography of E.B. White, Some Writer, as well as White’s classic Stuart Little as part of an inter-island book group coordinated by Robin Chernow of the Island Institute and IRW outer island Site Coordinator, Jan Keiper. A few kids had even read White’s The Trumpet of the Swan, which Melissa shared was a favorite of hers. One student noted that she preferred it over the ever-popular Charlotte’s Web. “Charlotte was just not as interesting,” she said, “and the pig is a little odd.” This led to a conversation about musical instruments and what instruments the kids played, if any. “I have to play the ukulele and I absolutely hate it,” relayed one youngster.
Melissa asked if any of the students wished they could have met E.B. White. “I don’t know,” they said. “Is there any author you would like to meet?” she followed up. “I don’t really look at who wrote the book,” was one kid’s the answer. “Oh, E.B. White would have loved that,” said Melissa. One student shared that they loved Brian Jacques’ Redwall series. Melissa was thankful for the recommendation and noted that she liked reading Gary D. Schmidt’s work and, of course, picture books.
When asked how long it took to write “Some Writer,” Melissa said it was nearly two years of research and at least another year on art. “When I got stuck with the writing, I would stop and create things,” she shared. She is now working on a biography (her favorite genre) about a woman who was born as a twin with Down’s syndrome, who was also deaf and non-verbal and loved to create fiber sculptures. She finds the question, “Why do humans make certain kinds of art?” intriguing. “I love making art so much. I think of myself as an artist who makes books,” she said. We love art, too and are so grateful for this opportunity to bring readers, writers and artists together.