I usually don’t respond to student telephone calls, texts, or Facebook posts. As a parent myself, I feel kids communicating with adults should happen with parent supervision. So, I avoided numerous calls from Isabella, until I received a letter from her parents.
She was working on a library book report about her favorite author. After purchasing King for a Day, the Story of Stories during the Kentucky Book Fair in Frankfort, Kentucky, she’d chosen me for her report.
“My librarian says authors are better than movie stars, because they write the story.” Isabella said in her letter.
Being a fan of librarians, I replied “I think librarians are better than movie stars, because they choose the books that fill the library.” Isabella shared the letter with her class and school librarian. Within a week, I’d been asked to visit two schools in her district.
As an author and illustrator, answer fan mail—schools are a niche market.
Dear Mr. Mark Wayne Adams,
I really like your art in some of your books, like “The Fart Fairy” and “My Friendly Giant.” Do you use watercolor? If so, it looks super good with all the bright colors you use. I really love your horses though. Like in “Good Nightmare.” I loved that. I saw some of your mermaids too. How did you get such great detail? I just LOOOOVVVVEEEE it! I can never get that detail in my art…Could you give me some pointers? To show you some of my sketches I’m gong to add another piece of paper in here.
I heard that you’re a traveling illustrator. Where are some of the places you’ve traveled to? Have you been to Kentucky? That’s where I live. How about Maine? I was born there. Or Indiana, that’s where my sis was born.
Have you ever had people not believe in you? A lot of my friends act like that they always say I’m going got fail on tests or not make it to parties and that they’re my only chance at ever having friends Ugh. How did you get inspired to draw? Sometimes I just sit and think about what I want to draw. I have a hard time finding inspiration! We’ll I appreciate you even reading this because you seem like a really busy kind of person. Well thanks for reading my letter!
All I really want to say is your art is amazing and I particularly like your horses and mermaid. I’m sure you get a lot of letters with the same things I said. I mean you have over 30 illustrated book! I mean you must get a ton of letters! I just wanna thank you for reading! Please respond!”
Jackson’s letter is why authors and illustrators should not only create books, but visit with readers.
“Dear Mark Wayne Adams,
Thank you for coming to Julington Creek Elementary School, I am glad that I got to sit next to you while the 5th Graders were performing their story. I was wearing a blue Under Armor long sleeve shirt with a white stripe going down the shirt. My friend, a girl with a long sleeve pink shirt and you signed her notebook and drew a picture in it.
I love your books, especially “Nicholas, That’s Ridiculous!” I would like to order the “Best Sketchbook.” But I would not like to order “Nicholas, That’s Ridiculous!” because we read it at the assembly.
In the notebook (on the first page) I would like you to draw a baseball player because I am a baseball player. And if you could please give me an autograph.
P.S. You are a really nice and funny man. I loved your “stories” that you told us at the assembly. LOVE YOUR BOOKS! Write back if you get the chance. You are my favorite author now!”
February 18, 2015
Jackson, thank you for being a fan. You’re an inspiring friend! —Mark Wayne Adams