NORTH SALEM, N.Y. – In explaining her path to becoming a New York Times best selling author, Wendy Mass told North Salem Middle School students about a couple of other dreams that didn't pan out.
“Once I realized becoming an astronaut and marrying Tom Cruise weren't too realistic, my dream was to become an author,” Mass said.
Mass has certainly fulfilled that dream, as she has penned 14 novels for young people, including “A Mango-Shaped Space,” “11 Birthdays,” “The Candymakers,” and “Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life.” The latter was the school’s choice for an optional summer reading project for grades six through eight. Eighth grade English teacher Karyn Johnson said approximately 75 percent of the 300 students took part in reading Jeremy Fink, along with completing a small project.
The novel tells the story of 12-year old Jeremy Fink and his best friend Lizzy Muldoun in their quest to retrieve four keys that unlock a wooden box that supposedly holds the meaning to life.
“Rarely do we get an opportunity for a cross-grade learning experience like this,” Johnson said. “It’s hard to find a book that’s appealing and appropriate for both genders and all three grades. For the kids to get a chance to meet Wendy after most of them read her book is really neat.”
Mass gave an hour presentation in her Thursday visit, which delved into her literally journey, why reading and writing is so important and a peak into her creative thought process. She also showed a laminated scroll of the many, many rejection letters she’s gotten over the years from potential publishers.
“It was really neat that she showed all of the rejection letters,” 7th grader Stella Ard said. “It’s an inspiration to always remember to keep pushing through.”
After her presentation, some students took part in two writing workshops, where Mass gave them a template to create their own characters. Many students were avid fans of Mass, and brought in copies of the books for her to sign.
“I talk to schools in grades four through eight a lot,” she said. “I think it’s great that they celebrate reading and books. It also gives me a chance to be around kids who are the same age as the characters in most of my books.”
For more information on Mass and her books, you can visit her website here.