Piece of Mind: Letters from some read-in fans

A large envelope addressed to me in cursive handwriting was delivered to our home mailbox last week. A quick glance at the return address suggested I was in for a special treat. La Cañada Elementary School teacher Sue Fuelling had earlier alerted me via email that she hoped to soon send through the postal service some thank-you notes her class had written me after my participation in the school’s late February community read-in. I opened the envelope eagerly, then leafed through the 29 well-crafted and thoughtful notes, savoring the children’s words and reliving our brief time together.

Truth be told, I enjoy nothing more than reading books out loud to kids. I especially love visiting Fuelling’s class for these annual read-ins, because she selects terrific books that she knows her fourth-graders will enjoy. Her students are well-behaved and attentive. After I’ve finished reading the book, we have a little question-and-answer period, with the students peppering me with inquiries about my career. It’s a cozy event and it’s over in the blink of an eye. It seems like I’m saying goodbye only moments after I’ve settled in for our time together.

The title Fuelling chose for this year’s read was “Levi Strauss Gets a Bright Idea: A Fairly Fabricated Story of a Pair of Pants,” penned by Tony Johnston and illustrated by Stacy Innerst. It’s an amusing tall tale surrounding the invention of blue jeans. It nicely complemented their studies of California’s Gold Rush.

In their thank-you notes — all carefully written on lined paper that had a Gold Rush motif around its four edges — the students described how much they enjoyed the book and our visit. They clearly liked the book’s broad humor; some even recited its recurring use of the word “Dang!” in their letters. Many took the opportunity to ask more about my job than we covered in our face-to-face visit.

“Have you always wanted to work for a newspaper?” Audrey wrote in her note. The answer: No. It never occurred to me that I would be part of such an intriguing enterprise until I found myself in the Valley Sun newsroom as a well-seasoned adult. My boss called me his “middle-aged housewife cub reporter.”

“If you couldn’t be an editor, what would you be?” Adam asked. Well, Adam, it would be great to be independently wealthy, tasked only with managing my investments — and, of course, reading books out loud to children. Kidding aside, I think it would be fantastic to have a job studying the oceans. English was an interesting college major, but every so often I wish someone had steered me toward a career in marine science. Dang!

Kaleb asked, “Where do you get your inspiration?” That’s easy: from people like you, your teacher and every one of your classmates. You all have a story to tell and you are all inspiring in your unique ways. Thank you for letting me spend some time in your presence. I am counting the days until next year’s read-in and I’d wager that other community members who have participated in this special event are doing the same.


CAROL CORMACI is the managing editor. Email her at carol.cormaci@latimes.com.

Copyright © 2019, La Cañada Valley Sun
EDITION: California | U.S. & World