The Christmas Village by Melissa Goodwin (WOW! blog tour)
November 17, 2011 in Book Club Possibility, Elementary Educators, Goodwin Melissa, Making Predictions, Middle Grade Novel, six traits of writing Tags: books about holidays, children's Christmas books, Middle Grade Novel, WOW, WOW! blog tour
Today, I am very excited to welcome middle-grade novelist, Melissa Goodwin, who is on a WOW! blog tour with her book, The Christmas Village. AND EVEN MORE EXCITING–I HAVE A PAPERBACK COPY TO GIVEAWAY. One lucky reader who leaves a comment or question for Melissa OR who shares their favorite holiday decoration/tradition in a comment by Sunday, November 20 at 8:00 p.m. CST has a chance to win this book. (United States and Canada mailing addresses only please.)
Quick book summary: In this heartwarming story, Jamie wishes he could live in his grandma’s miniature Christmas Village, where everything seems so perfect. Magically, he gets his wish! But, things are not always what they seem–can Jamie help his friends and still get home in time for Christmas?
What an honor–I have Melissa here today with her guest post: “Every Town Tells a Story.” You can use her ideas here with the 6 + 1 traits of writing, the IDEAS trait.
Every Town has a Story – Ways to Encourage Kids (and Grown-ups! ) to Write
Melissa Ann Goodwin
On April 14, 1755, four-year-old Lucy Keyes tagged along behind her older sisters as they trudged through the woods of Princeton, Massachusetts. Lucy never came home. The townsfolk searched everywhere, but no trace of her was ever found. Lucy’s mother, Martha, searched the woods daily, calling for her missing child. More than 250 years later, people in Princeton swore they’d seen Martha’s ghost and heard her cries echoing through the woods.
In 2005, writer-director John Stimpson lived on land that was once part of the Keyes’ property. He’d heard the Lucy Keyes story thousands of times – it was the stuff of legend in such a small town. The mystery called to him so strongly that he made a movie, The Legend of Lucy Keyes, starring Hollywood actors and using Princeton locals as extras.
We can all take a lesson from Stimpson, who saw the potential for great storytelling literally in his own back yard. Like Princeton, every town has stories, and discovering them is a great way to get kids excited about writing – which is really just the art of storytelling. There are hundreds – even thousands of tales a town might tell; we just have to go looking for them.
So where do we start? Here are some suggestions:
Street names: Streets are often named for people who played a significant role in a town’s history. Why did the town name a street after this person? There’s a story there! Sometimes street names reflect something specific about the area. For example, you’d expect Apple Orchard Lane to be near an apple orchard. But what if it’s not? Was there once an orchard there? What happened to it? There’s a story there, too.
Rivers and other landmarks: The names of rivers and geographic landmarks often reflect whatever the person who named them experienced there. A dry riverbed named “Buzzard’s Roost Wash,” creates a vivid image of vultures perched on bare tree branches, waiting to pounce. Whenever I see a name like that, I think, there’s gotta be a reason!
Statues and monuments: In my book, The Christmas Village, there is a statue in the village square that you wouldn’t expect to find in a Vermont town. The idea for this small detail in my story came from the real town of York, Maine. The town ordered a statue, but the wrong one was delivered. The frugal York townspeople didn’t want to pay to send it back, so they kept the statue and put it in the center of town. What stories do the monuments in your town tell?
Cemeteries: Graveyards tell many stories and pose even more questions. Over here is a large plot with ornate headstones, surrounded by a fancy wrought iron fence. What was this family’s story?
Once we start thinking about our own town’s history as a collection of the stories of everyone who ever lived there, the possibilities for storytelling are endless! The local librarian can help kids research the facts about major events and prominent people. But sometimes the answers to our questions can’t be found in the library or at the town hall. Sometimes, like the Lucy Keyes story, they remain a mystery. That’s when, as John Stimpson did with Lucy Keyes, we get to have the fun of telling stories the way we imagine they might have happened.
Don’t forget to leave your comment for a chance to win The Christmas Village.