Bobbie Pyron, author of A Dog's Way Home and The Dogs of Winter Skyped with our class and some guests from the local college.
My class participated in a reading partnership with students at our local community college. I divided the kids into small groups and assigned books for them to read in small book clubs. Students from Columbus State Community College read the same books and then blogged with my fourth graders. (Several classrooms from our district participated in this project). A group of 5 boys read A Dog's Way Home and loved it, as I knew they would. I thought it would be great to bring Bobbie to our classroom via Skype and invite our new friends from Columbus State. I contacted Bobbie via Twitter and she graciously agreed to meet with us this afternoon.
When did the story take place? Bobbie liked this question and said no one had asked her that before. She explained she wanted this story to be in a timeless place. She consciously decided to not include cell phones and texting because that would date the story. She compared A Dog's Way Home to Charlotte's Web, where the story could take place at any time.
Are your characters based on real people? Some of the characters are based a little on people she knows. For example, Abby is somewhat like she was as a young girl, except that Abby is much more confident in herself. Ivy Calhoun is based on her great aunt who lived in Gatlinburg when she was still alive. Surprisingly, Cheyenne Rivers was not going to be a very big character in the book, but she took on a life of her own. For the most part, the characters are their own people.
Why did you use different points of view? She didn't start out that way. After she decided to alternate between Tam's and Abby's points of view, she wasn't sure how to do Tam's chapters. She knew she didn't want Tam to be a talking dog, so instead she used the intimate third person point of view.
What books have you read recently? Bobbie told the kids that one of the most important things a writer can do read, read, read. Second? Be aware of what is going on around you. She told us how she picks up snippets of conversation, which gives her ideas. We shared that we were doing the Slice of Life Challenge and she was impressed that the kids are writing every day for 31 days. When we asked what she was reading, we were excited to hear that she was reading some of the same books we were. She mentioned:
Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool
Wonder by RJ Palacio
Kindred Souls by Patricia MacLachlan
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage
The Giver by Lois Lowry
We then recommended The False Prince by Jennifer Nielsen. It was fun for me to note that many of these books were in kids' hands right now. We are currently reading Wonder as a read aloud and had read The One and Only Ivan earlier this year. I just gave one of the boys Navigating Early and a couple of my students read Kindred Souls at the beginning of the year. Three Times Lucky is going to be my first spring break read. :)
Being able to connect with authors is such a gift. Bobbie is always very gracious and kind. This is actually the third time I've Skyped with her. I guess I could be considered one of her groupies.
Spending time with Bobbie, talking about writing and reading, and learning more about her writing process was the perfect way to spend the day. I couldn't ask for a better Slice of Life.
Thanks to Ruth and Stacey for hosting the Slice of Life Challenge.