“What is this?” I asked my mother, turning to her as my father set down our large suitcases. She smiled slyly, and her eyes were sparkling.
I thought that I’d wait until you got back to open that.” she replied, and I noticed that the letter was addressed to both of us. She’s up to something, I knew. But what? Not-so carefully (I have a problem with opening envelopes) I tore the paper open and pulled out what appeared to be a postcard with an intricate drawing of a beetle on it - and then I flipped it over. The back was written in the same slightly messy script. My eyes traveled over the words, not taking them in, until they rested at the signature.
My heart seemed to stop, completely shocked and incredulous. NO. It was impossible…..Blue Balliett, the famous author of five truly stunning books I had read, sending ME a letter?!?! What twist of fate had brought this about?.... My mind whirled as I tried to think it through…. And then, like a crashing tsunami, excitement flooded me and all other thoughts were erased as I began to scream.
I learned the truth in a few moments. My mother, who had been on the author’s website, had seen a piece that Blue Balliett had written in honor of E.L. Konigsberg, another of our favorite authors who had recently died. And she had been struck with the idea to send the essay I had written months ago, praising Chasing Vermeer, to Blue Balliett - who wrote back!! It was nearly better than a dream - almost as wonderful as an invitation to Hogwarts! I was, and still am, highly honored that someone who can write so well would take the time to respond to a small letter containing a fifth-grader’s writing. But what has resonated with me the most, what I use as a talisman of hope whenever I become discouraged, what is still seared into my mind, is what was written on a small card attached to the postcard. Blue Balliett’s signature is on the first line, and underneath -
For Julianna R., a writer of great promise!