Written by Eve Bunting
Illustrated by David Wisniewski
Clarion, 1997

Last week I visited a first grade classroom at a local elementary school to talk about my “job” as a children’s book writer. I found myself in the awkward situation of presenting myself as an author and having no book to show the kids. And so I brought along other proofs of my job:

I prepared a storyboard that showed photographs of me at work on my first book. There were images of me in my office, at my computer, in the library, interviewing scientists, transcribing notes, interviewing more scientists, and beachcombing.

I also brought an eighteen-inch stack of manuscripts which represented three revisions of my manuscript. They loved this part. The markings of my editor’s red pen were a huge hit, and the kids suggested that an editor is “just like a teacher”.

With stunning lack of foresight, I passed out some of the bathtub toys that feature so prominently in my book. These caused all sorts of problems and had to be collected straightaway. (They were thrown and squeezed and tossed and bitten and fought over …)

Finally, I talked with the kids about storytelling. They agreed it was fun, and that different people can tell the same story in quite different—yet equally enjoyable—ways. I showed them some books written by other authors about the same tub toy spill my book explores, and they chose one of them for me to read out loud.

Eve Bunting’s DUCKY is a fictional account of the tub toy spill. The story is told from the point of view of a rubber duck, and Mr. Wisniewski uses colorful cut-paper art to illustrate it. This treatment definitely struck a chord with these kids … they grew very quiet when the duck found itself alone at sea and there were a few gasps when a shark showed up. I was struck (once again) at how quickly children of this age are swept up in a good story. They were completely mesmerized.

I finished the morning by giving each child a notebook in which to record their own stories and observations. In return, they promised to read my book when it comes out and to let me know if they find some rubber tub toys at the beach this summer.

Cool kids, every one of them!