My Big Helper recently won a writing contest sponsored by author Denette Fretz and Zondervan. She won in her age category, and then each winner's name was tossed into the ring to win a Skyping session with Fretz herself.
She won that, too.
This became a really big deal - My Big Helper emailed back and forth with Fretz herself, trying to work out the details of when they could make this happen. My daughter thought it would be fun for her book club friends to be there, and since Fretz offered to interact with a group, this seemed like the perfect one.
Fretz asked that we have some questions ready for her, and so when the girls arrived for book club I read Fretz' story to them. We brainstormed questions and made lists of them before moving on to our other planned activities.
When the magic time arrived, the girls all started hopping around, asking me to answer the Skype call and connect. They settled themselves on the floor in front of the computer and, although shy at first, were soon jockeying to be the one asking the next question.
They asked all sorts of things. What church does she go to? First Church of the Nazarene. Has she always wanted to write books? Yes, always. Why pirates? Because she lived in the Caribbean for a while, and pirates were a big part of island culture. Have you written any grown-up books? No, I just love picture books!
Fretz went beyond just facts, though. She brought along a stack of rejection letters going back years and talked with the girls about how difficult it is to become a published author. About how we are given gifts and talents and they are there for a purpose. About how, when we're meant to do something, we must be persistent and not give up.
The girls nodded their heads and eagerly scribbled her responses on sheets of paper. I could see more about Fretz than what her answers shared, though.
This woman is kind. She's thoughtful. She's faithful and observant. She noticed when My Little Man was hiding in the background, not wanting to miss anything, and she said 'hi' to him each time, even when he ran and hid in silliness.
She's generous. Fretz is a first-grade teacher, and I can tell you from experience that those lunch breaks are important. You get to eat, yes, but you also get quiet without 25 short people grabbing onto your sleeves wanting to tell you what their dog did last night. Teaching is fun and important work, yes, but it's also draining. Fretz spent most of her lunch break encouraging this young group of readers, though, and left very little time for her own nourishment or break.
Winning this writing contest was a huge inspiration for My Big Helper. She has written and illustrated stories before, but having positive feedback from someone other than Mommy or another family member - having an author choose her story to win - made her feel that yes, maybe she is good at this writing thing.
So while I enjoyed meeting Denette Fretz, wonderful children's author, even better was seeing the glow on my Big Helper's face after meeting such an amazing woman.
Is Fretz' work new to you? Be sure to visit her website here to learn more about her book Pirates on the Farm.