Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween

Today is Halloween, but Friday was the day for elementary school Halloween parties. And on Friday I was invited to Mesa Elementary School, my boys' former elementary school, to speak at their fifth-grade variant of a Halloween party, the Biography Tea, because of my book Being Teddy Roosevelt, inspired by that very event.

For the Biography Tea, children come to school dressed as some famous person and impersonate that individual during an elegant tea party. The four main characters in my book dress up as Teddy Roosevelt, Mahatma Gandhi, Hellen Keller, and Queen Elizabeth, and each has his or her life changed in some small but significant way as a result of inhabiting this other identity.

This year I saw two Queen Elizabeths, at least one Pocohantas, and one very convincing-looking Abraham Lincoln, as well as a terrific King Tut. I also encountered some wonderful famous people I had never met before: pictured above is Sam Dusinberre as Sousa band trumpeter Herbert L. Clarke.

After my brief talk to the two costumed fifth-grade classes, it was wonderful to field questions from so many eminent historic personages. The teacher, Ms. Devira Chartrand, a brilliantly acted Charlotte Bronte, asked me about my writing process. Emily Dickinson, Anne Frank, and Laura Ingalls Wilder smiled sympathetically as I answered. The two boys dressed as Louis Braille (one wearing dark glasses, the other with his eyes kept shut) asked me if there were any Braille editions of my books - good question, Louis! (The answer, alas, is no.)

Yay for the Biography Tea!

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