Monday, November 16, 2009

Friday the 13th -- My Good Luck Day

So much has been happening, I haven't had time to blog! Last week I was preparing for my school visit Friday. (Yes, on Friday the 13th, the perfect date to talk about a book involving magic and wishes gone awry.) To top it off, I was invited to be a guest blogger for Sandra Muncaster's blog at (She posted my blog today.) Sandie is assistant editor at Stories for Children, a montly e-zine for children from 3 to 12 that also takes submissions from children as well as adults. We met via Jacketflap, which has to be one of the more amazing webgroups I belong to!

So, Friday.... I spoke to about a hundred 4th, 5th, and 6th graders in an assembly at Elder Creek Elementary School. Afterward, there was a book signing in the library, followed by an "author's lunch" for students who had bought the book.

The visit was special for many reasons. This was my first school visit, and the kids were a wonderful audience. I also used to teach 6th grade at Elder Creek. As the students filed into the multipurpose room, I had a real pang of nostalgia for my own 6th graders who each year filed in, accompanied by the music of Pomp and Circumstance, to receive their diplomas. But the day was special for even a third reason: I read early drafts of the book to three different classes (a 3rd grade, a split 4th-5th, and a 6th) and applied students' suggestions in each new rewrite. Those students made The Fourth Wish a good read!

The super librarian, Eva Chu had tipped me off regarding points students would want to know about: Why did I want to be a writer and write for kids? How did I get the idea for THIS book? Why the title? It was nice to revisit all those questions for myself.

I’ve written most of my life, but it was while teaching that I got hooked on writing for young people. The issues students talked about or wrote in their journals often lingered on in my mind: family break-ups, single working moms worried about making ends meet, pre-teen crushes, pesky neighbors, and, in the case of my Chinese students, extra homework from Chinese school after regular homework. All of these are going on in The Fourth Wish.
As for the title: I’ve always been fascinated by stories about magic (the real kind) and I’ve always been intrigued by magic tricks (the illusory kind). So, when an image came to me of a magician onstage performing one of his tricks and having it get messed up by real magic, well, that was the beginning of The Fourth Wish.

In The Fourth Wish, four children on their way to see The Great Mondo’s magic show meet a strange old woman who says she can grant wishes. They don’t believe her, but to humor her, they agree on a wish that, as it turns out, messes up The Great Mondo’s act. This leads to a 2nd and 3rd wish, each time making things worse. In fairy tales, there are only three wishes. Lucky for Mondo, this time there’s a fourth “fix-it” wish, but not until lives are turned upside down.

Meanwhile, I’ve started a blog for young readers at , where, among other things, I’ll run contests, post websites of magazines that take submissions from young writers, and also post new magic tricks from a wonderful magic store called Grand Illusions.

By the way, I’m always looking for good new reads. Visit me here and recommend some for me. I like anything for young people (from picture books to young adults), and mysteries for any age are my weakness.

The Fourth Wish can be ordered at and at

1 comment:

Clementine said...

Whew! I felt that one with you through your words. I could see them filing in to find their seats. That must have been a thrill! Congratulations!