Tuesday, November 6, 2007

There are no hills in Hills

Here's the barber shop in Hills, Iowa. It's just down the street from Hills Elementary School where I started my five days in Iowa yesterday. I have lots to say about this Community Reads program and teacher-librarians in Iowa City and how they are working together and making a difference. I want to tell you about these wonderful students!

But I have to go to school, so I leave you with photos for now, but I'll be back.

This was Sunday, when I arrived.

I walked the neighborhood and walked through Iowa City, found Prairie Lights Bookstore where I'll sign stock on Wednesday, ate at a noodle house, then walked back up the hill to my bed. I called my husband, Jim, and said, "We're moving to Iowa City!"

The wind started on Monday -- a cold, hard, relentless wind that made getting from the car to each school an arctic challenge. I called Jim and said, "Cancel that move." Haha! But it was gorgeous, too -- I wish I had photos of the November sky to show you as the wind pushed masses of dark silver clouds across the end-of-the-day sky and the late-afternoon sun slanted through the clouds and sprayed the barns and cornfields with a golden glow. Stunningly beautiful sky. Remarkably overwritten prose. No time to revise.

Had supper with my good friend Jackie Martin (SNOWFLAKE BENTLEY) and her husband Rich (who played the vibraphone for me) in their home in Mount Vernon, Iowa. Jackie's new book, CHICKEN JOY ON REDBEAN ROAD, is pure delight. If you haven't read it, you must must must. Love the illustrations by Melissa Sweet as well.

More as soon as I can -- I love it here. I will see every fifth and sixth grader in Iowa City schools this week, all 18 elementary schools! Students have been well-prepared -- I'll tell you all about it.

Here is the Deborah Wiles Endowed Chair at Hills Elementary. I love these artistic depictions of my books, and I especially love the marbles! In FREEDOM SUMMER, Joe and John Henry "play marbles in the dirt until we're too hot to be alive." Then they run to Fiddler's Creek. "Last one in's a rotten egg!"

Here are some of the students at Weber Elementary, all wearing Community Reads t-shirts -- we had a great day yesterday (and a great pot luck lunch).

Here are Asijah, Tatyonna, and Ronetta, journalists and welcome committee at Roosevelt. Roosevelt hosted Horn Elementary students as well.

The kids at Roosevelt and Horn -- actually, ALL of yesterday's students -- knocked me over with their big love -- I love you right back. But more later -- gotta run!

You can read more about this week in schools in today's edition of the Iowa Press-Citizen.