Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Patricia MacLachlan Expert

He waltzed into the classroom today, a huge smile on his face. "I got it, Mr. Allen, I got it!  I've been waiting and waiting for it to come... and last night it did!"  He put the shiny new book Kindred Souls in my hand.  "You have no idea how much I've been bugging my mom since I heard about it... Patricia MacLachlan's new book!"  
     I listened in awe as Nolan told me the story of the pre-order, his adoration for Patricia MacLachlan's writing, his constant nudging... It was Valentine's Day and it was obvious he was in love!
     Nolan's adoration for Patricia MacLachlan started early this year.  Three Names quickly became a favorite.  Then there was All The Places to Love and Through Grandpa's Eyes, which I read as a notebook nudge.  Soon, it was his personal copy of Word, after Word, after Word, tabbed with sticky notes (his own choosing) and annotated with thoughts and questions and ah-has (his own choice) that enveloped him, engaging him in the kind of reading we can only hope to watch develop in our students.  Of course, he soon discovered Waiting for the Magic on the shelf and devoured it... it's magical, watching him spread the beauty of Patricia Maclachlan's writing around the room.  It's contagious.
     Workshop, after Workshop, after Workshop, I've watched Nolan breathe his reading life into the words of his new favorite author.  When he has free time, he sits with the "Maclachlan" basket spread around him, looking... studying... searching.  For what?  For words.  For mentorship from another author.  For language.  For the kind of passion that comes from falling in love... with writing!
     Nolan is slowly becoming our resident expert on Patricia's writing.  He knows her.  "I've tried Baby a couple of times, but I don't think I'm quite ready for it."  "I LOVE Sarah, Plain, and Tall."  "Isn't she the most amazing writer?"  What I love is that Nolan has discovered that her words fill his heart and mind with amazing curiosity and joy.  And, he's not afraid to share it with his fellow classmates.
     So, Nolan's become Kindred Souls with Patricia MacLachlan... and she doesn't even know him!  But he knows her... and "what he knows first" he'll take with him forever.
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Kindred Souls is MacLachlan's latest book about Jake and his grandfather, Billy.  It's about growing old... and having someone young with whom to share life.  Haven't we all had that "person" we've wanted to live forever?  Jake does.  I just glanced through Nolan's book today... and now it's on my ORDER TODAY list.  But if I have any questions in the meantime, I just have to ask Nolan.  After all, he's the expert... and he beat me to the punch on this one!


  1. Special story about a student, who must have been influenced by his teacher a bit too in finding Patricia MacLachlan's books. They are wonderful, and how great is it that Nolan has found a 'kindred' soul, perhaps.

  2. Patrick, What a fabulous story. Isn't it amazing to watch kids take off like that, to find a passion and follow it? Those moments make all of the stresses of being a teacher today worth it. Thank you for sharing Nolan's story with us, and please tell Nolan that he touched a teacher's heart today.

  3. I feel as if I'm a kindred soul with Nolan. Can't wait to get may hands on her new book! It makes me want to sit on the floor with a bin of Patricia MacLachlan's books!

  4. I love this story. Isn't this the ultimate?? I love to see students develop this passion and begin to live life as a reader and a writer. Thanks for sharing this story.

  5. I love when students get "hooked" on an author and are simply inspired by their work. You can tell Nolan is having this experience and I think it is fabulous. I'm sure you know this but there are 4 books to the series "Sarah Plain and Tall". I had four students finish these the other day and they were wanting another one! You and your students are truly amazing!