Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Happy Birthday, Milo Speck

Dear Milo,

I’ll admit it: this is a first. I cannot think of another time in all my book-crazed doings that I wrote a letter to a middle-grade book character (let alone published it online). But, no matter how much it heightens my nerdy-factor, I couldn’t let your publication day pass without writing to say: 
Happy (Book) Birthday!

I bet you have quite a team celebrating today. I can only imagine the feelings of your author and her incredible support team on your publication day. My students and I have celebrated book birthdays before, but we agree that yours feels different, maybe more personal thanks to Linda, who invited us into your world two years ago. You were a manuscript under revision. Unbeknownst to you, you were an experimental subject, the topic of many revealing and inspiring writing conversations between my students and Linda. We’ve anticipated this day, too, the more we got to know Linda as a fellow writer and witnessed her writing process and followed you through to publication.

I still remember two Decembers ago when you--a “smaller” you, in only your first five chapters--first made your way to my classroom. My students and I knew we were spending time something--someone--special as we read, discussed, reacted, and responded. We got to know you and your family. We ventured with you to Ogregon, where boy-hungry ogres seemed impossible to dodge. We couldn’t know your mission yet (really) and couldn’t imagine if you would survive it. But we were already looking forward to this day, when you would be published.

Do you remember the day you arrived in my classroom as an ARC? Our school secretary knew you were inside that decorated envelope and hand-delivered you to our door. The room erupted in excited noise. The students insisted that we stop whatever we were doing (I can’t remember what that was now. Telling, isn’t it?) and read on from where we had stopped in the manuscript that still lived in my inbox. And we did. Whenever we were inside your story, we were making happy memories--sharing our reading and writing lives.

We spent months in friendship with you as we virtually navigated the world of Ogregon, willing you to evade threats of danger and to be successful in your mission. We studied your actions, your words, your choices. We noticed as you changed and grew, and we found courage in your bravery, perseverance, and leadership.
Ready to begin again...

Today is not only your book birthday, Milo, but it’s also our first day of school. One of our very last memories of the past school year was talking about you in person when Linda visited us. The whole day felt celebratory, celebrating my writers and Linda and you, all the same. And now, here we are at the beginning again, and it seems fitting that my students and I will begin your story again--the published version--on page 1 with all of our new classmates and friends, in all of six of our new 5th and 6th grade classrooms.

Milo, your book birthday is a happy day for all of us, because there are so many other readers like us who will have the chance to read your story now, too. Kids and teachers and parents. They’ll laugh. They’ll cheer. They’ll worry and wonder for you, too. And then, they’re probably going to tell someone else about you. We sure hope they do.

It has been a real honor, Milo, to watch you evolve over the last two years...to cheer you along...and now to celebrate you.
Happy Birthday, Milo Speck: Accidental Agent.

Two Years of Book-loving Friends at Oxford Elementary School


  1. Just got around to seeing the final product! Loved the pictures you added! K grabbed the book as soon as I opened the box yesterday :)

    1. And I just updated it to include the last photo, too. Thanks for the feedback on this piece. I hope K enjoys/has enjoyed Milo!