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By Rama K. Ramaswamy
Kate Messner is an award-winning author who writes books for kids. She and her work have been mentioned in the New York Times Notable, Junior Library Guild, IndieBound, and Bank Street College of Education Best Books selections. Messner’s latest book, “The Seventh Wish” was the focus of her presentation at DSMS last week. The book is about Irish dancing, ice fishing, magic, entomophagy (eating insects), flour babies and friendship, but that’s not all. It’s also about the shattering effect opioid epidemic has on families nationally. Middle School English teacher, Laura Mullen, set up the presentation and introduced Messner to D-S students in grades six through eight.
“Kate Messner approached me at the National Council of Teachers of English Annual Conference in Minneapolis about the book tour opportunity,” said Mullen. “I was able to attend that conference thanks to a grant from Dover Sherborn Education Fund. After our assistant headmaster and I read the book, we let Kate know that we’d love to be considered for a spot on the book tour. Clearly, it worked out since she came!”
The English teachers either read the first five chapters aloud to their students, or the students read the first chapter by themselves. “We are hosting a summer reading book club for any student who wants to borrow a copy of the book over the summer,” added Ms. Mullen. “Those books were purchased with a grant from the POSITIVE parent group. We care about teaching our students that part of being a successful student is making responsible choices, so this book aligned with our school values.”
Messner, as it turns out, lives on Lake Champlain with her family and loves spending time outside, whether it’s kayaking in the summer or skating on the frozen lake when the temperatures drop. She used several “techniques” to capture and retain the attention of D-S student-attendees and they, in turn, asked her a few tough questions about “the recurring ice-flowers/crystals theme” in “The Seventh Wish.”
“How many drafts did it take before reaching the final version?” and “do any of your books gets rejected?” were also among the top five questions asked. Messner not only spoke about her latest book, but walked students through some of her techniques, such as keeping a notebook to jot down ideas and observations.
Messner explained that she does her research. In order to complete “The Seventh Wish,” she contacted a “real life ice-fisherman” and had a long conversation with him about making a living as an ice-fisherman, among other details.
“I’ve loved writing since I was old enough to hold a pencil, but to be honest, it never occurred to me that I could be a real, live author some day,” said Messner. “I grew up in a really small town, and we didn’t have authors visit our schools, so I didn’t know any authors. To me, they were far away people, not just ordinary people like me who loved to write.”
When asked why Messner prefers writing for kids rather than adults, she explained her feelings: “No offense to any grownups out there, but I’d much rather write for kids. I believe the books we read as kids are books that help shape us in a way that adult books can’t quite do, no matter how beautifully they’re written.” For more information about Kate, go to: http://www.katemessner.com.