"Be Who You Are"

Yesterday was amazing.

I met the most incredible group of young readers and aspiring writers at Wyomissing Public Library  in Wyomissing, Pa.

The After School Club has been reading and discussing Pack of Dorks for weeks and invited me to meet with them during their last meeting. Can you imagine how my writer heart swelled as they talked about Lucy, Sam and the Pack? Such insightful, enthusiastic observations.

Take, for example, Annie, who summed up the message of the novel in four words: “Be who you are.”

Be who you are.

I love it! (Annie, by the way, also drew the spot-on picture of Grandma on her balcony above. Notice that she even got the sandals right!)

Other observations included that “Wolves made Sam and Lucy friends.”

We talked about other aspects of the book, including the word epiphany, used when Lucy and her mom talk after meeting other families with children who have Down Syndrome.

                “She’s not all that different from me, is she?” I said. “Not really, I mean.”

                “Sounds like you had an epiphany today. It means you realized something important. You know what? I had the same epiphany.” (Page 197)

One boy, Jack, hoped that someday he’d have an epiphany about which word April shouted out in the cafeteria that got her in so much trouble.

I loved the enthusiasm in the room as we talked about writing, about diversity, about storytelling and about their lives. (They’re in the middle of the dreaded standardized testing week and were pretty jazzed about the bonus recess.) I also, I must say, loved dining on Grandma’s famous peanut butter and Nutella popcorn.

Many thanks to children’s librarian Joie Formando for pulling together such an incredible group and allowing me a chance to participate.