Secret Teddy Society in the classroom
Something happened that was rather serendipitous. While I was doing a Goodreads book giveaway (Goodreads is a social website for readers) for STS, I randomly contacted a person that had entered the drawing. I don't know what prompted me to reach out to this individual. His icon was a stuffed pig, plush toy and at the time he didn't have any social connections on Goodreads. I simply wrote to say thank you for entering and I hope you win. I also mentioned that if he didn't win I would be happy to send him a free ebook. He wrote back thanking me for the generous offer but confessed that he was more of an old school guy that preferred the feel of paper. I appreciated his candor and told him that if he didn't win that I would be glad to send him a paperback.
Well, he wasn't one of the winners so I sent him a copy. He responded with a wonderful review of the book plus he mentioned that his students would also enjoy STS.
What? He's a teacher? He never mentioned it. This could be interesting.
As I have said many times, I didn't exactly know the proper age for STS. It seems as though a younger audience would find it appealing. True. Unfortunately, I have since received a few comments stating that readers under the age of 11 or 12 tend to struggle with the vocabulary which creates disinterest in the story. It's not that it's filled with large words but I didn't dumb the book down just so kids could read it. This was to be a book that was geared more for anyone that can allow themselves to be a kid again and enjoy a childlike story that has a more serious tone of consequence for ones actions. Why can't a teddy bear story be cute and serious?
The man's name is Mr. Henderson. He is a 5th grade teacher in Orlando, Florida. We have been keeping in touch because I am curious about the responses from a younger audience. Not to mention the age group he was dealing with was on the cusp of understanding the diction in the book.
He thought enough of STS to offer it to several of his students. I asked if he would let me know their reaction. Mr. Henderson agreed and thought it might add incentive to read if the students knew that the he was communicating with the author. He was right.
Because I had asked about their reaction he told his students that they could write a note that he would forward to me.
With their permission, I would like to share the comments I received.
Some of the comments divulge details that may spoil surprise or scenes.
"Secret Teddy Society: Breaking the Code
Secret Teddy Society is a great book. It was fun to read, but some of the vocabulary was hard. This is a book that I very much enjoyed reading. :) I liked the part when Waldo faced the Zombie bears and also when he and Bobby Bear would come to life when the house was empty. I think the vocabulary was a 6th or 7th grade level and I think it would be easier to read if you either explained in the book what it meant or used an easier word.
I think you should really write a sequel because the books are really cool and you say in the last sentence of the book that there are more adventures around the corner. I think you should write about Waldo and Bobby Bear's family traveling and they get lost and meet new bears with different cultures. Also, my 3rd grade brother thinks the book looks interesting and wants to read it next.
I'm glad my teacher gave it to me to read.
A personal flaw I suffer from is over-generosity. I wanted to thank the girls for their notes and kind words. I reciprocated by sending a letter that Mr. Henderson then framed and gave to the students. I understand that I can't do this for each student. True. But for now, I can. It is an honor to impact someone's life in a positive way and a personal note was the least that I could do.
Mr. Henderson told me that he plans on working with the book throughout next year, plus he started an STS binder in class where he inserts a copy of the letters I have written to each student and their comments to me. I was taken with his gesture. I wanted to include him in the building process of STS School Club.
Because I am offering shirts on the website I thought I would ask for some input on some new designs. When I asked what some of the feedback was he replied, "Ally told me that she drew a picture for a shirt but she hasn't brought it to school."
That wasn't what I asked. She was to look at the designs I had come up with and select from those.
Oh-well. This could prove interesting.
He forwarded her design and it was adorable. I took what she drew for a design and used her layout.
She had a phrase that read, "Do you know the real deal about teddies". She had a carton of milk, an ice cream cone, a Zombie bear and a glass of milk with a straw scattered about. I was able to utilize actual book chapter graphics that my daughter had drawn and create her design. Why not print the shirt and send it to her as a surprise?
You got it! That's what I did.
Here's how it unfolded as told by Mr. Henderson:
The shout happened around 9:15 this morning? Did you hear it? I'll try and recreate the scene for you...
That would have been fun to see. Mr. H did a great job describing the scene. I couldn't help but smile while reading.
I thought it might be fun to keep posting a few comments from students and share their perspectives about the Secret Teddy Society.
One more thing.
I asked Mr. Henderson if he could take a picture of Ally and Callista together posing like Bobby Bear and Waldo (Arms folded back to back). He was able to get them to pose and sent me the picture.
I then made a new picture from that one. I thought it might be fun to have them posing with BB and Waldo to be the welcome picture for STS School Club. (To be clear, the parents are always asked permission before using images)
This is what I came up with: