Thursday, December 04, 2008

My Favorite "Emerging Writer"

If you're a longtime follower of this blog, you know that I spend a lot of time with my sister's two kids, now ages 5 and 2. (And if you're new, you may as well get used to it.) And you also know, as this photograph from February 2004 (reprinted with maternal permission) suggests, that I've tried to take an active role in shaping their reading and writing lives from the start.

In that spirit, today I will share the Thanksgiving literary debut of my niece, R., the proud author (and printer/publisher, thanks to independent folding and stapling efforts) of what's sure to be a bestseller: The Mouse Eat Cheese. (R. is still working on some subject/verb agreement and verb tense issues--play a game with her and you'll hear her shout, 'I winned!'; ask her to show you what she's done lately with paper and markers, and she'll display what "I drawed.")

Although I'm still getting used to what seems a newfangled emphasis on allowing young children to spell words however the words may sound to them, rather than according to the correct spellings (a subject of commiseration with one of my college roommates in our most recent telephone call--apparently kids on the West Coast are encouraged to follow this system, too), I am absolutely heartened by R.'s mastery of plot--something her Aunt Erika still needs a lot of help with. Although you can't see this for yourself, take my word for it: The eating of cheese represented on this sample page is followed by a series of other concrete actions, culminating in going to sleep.

I am also deeply impressed by R.'s efforts to illustrate her own work. (So what if the mouse "lack" ears?)

Beyond her self-started literary activities, R. was kept busy over Thanksgiving checking off the responsibilities Grandma had outlined for her on a to-do list. These included writing out placecards for the holiday table. Check out my favorite.
(Interestingly, R. seems to be grappling with the same "k" difficulties that plagued me when I was her age: Don't ask about the traumatizing experience of seeking my first library card and encountering a librarian who refused to let my dad print the "k" for me--I was a perfectionist pretty early.)

So, you heard it here first, folks: The author of The Mouse Eat Cheese is destined for great things! And in case you're wondering, R. has confirmed that she is not working on a "mouse" series. Her next book, she shared in an exclusive interview, will feature a cat protagonist. (Then again, maybe she's planning The Cat Eat Mouse. Stay tuned!)


B.J. Epstein said...

What a lovely post! Thank you for sharing this, Erika! We'll all be sure to keep an eye out for R.'s future writings!

Best wishes,

Anonymous said...

I love this! I smiled all the way through, thanks for posting it. (And I'm secretly gloating that someday I can say "I knew R. when...")

Unknown said...

Wonderfully charming, Erika! I love these little books. She is a star, I can see and what a sweet tale. There is something about mice!

My kindergartener was writing a play this morning: "don't be friends with everybody sed petr pen" figured somewhere.

The invented spelling is the free-writing of the kindergarten set: freeing and just one stop along the train... It's weird, after all those spelling bees...

Erika D. said...

Thanks for all the wonderful comments!

JR's Thumbprints said...

Wow! It sounds like a hit; much better than my adult students' essays.

Tumblewords: said...

Neat post! My granddaughter has begun reading to her 3-month-old niece and it's hard to tell which one enjoys it more. I was taken with the plate - is it Franciscan Desert Rose?

Erika D. said...

Thanks for the additional comments! Yes, the plate is indeed Franciscan Desert Rose, a legacy from one of R's great-grandmas (who was called Rose).