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Meeting One of My Literary Heroes

Sometimes you meet your heroes in serendipitous, almost miraculous ways.

About a month ago I reached out to author David Elliott to ask if he would read my book, Outside, which comes out in November 2024. I’d never met David in person, but I’ve been reading his books to my children for years. The first book I read to them is David’s And Here’s To You! which is an utterly joyous, linguistically rich picture book. Through his books, David helped my children develop a love of reading. Moreover, he helped them develop a love of language and poetry.

Anyway, I sent David an email, and told him how much my family loves his books, and he said he’d be glad to read Outside with an eye toward endorsing it with a blurb. It was a miracle! And an honor! I’ve said many times, mostly in my newsletter (you can sign up at the bottom of my website, if you’d like to subscribe) that asking for blurbs is a chance to meet the writers who helped form you as a reader, and who continue to inform your work. It’s a chance to meet your literary rockstars.

And when it comes to picture books and fantasy novels in verse, David is The Boss.

A few days after connecting with David, when I was at work (I teach public school), I received an email from our reading specialist. She said, “Author David Elliott is coming to give a presentation to our students on Friday, February 23rd.”

I couldn’t believe it. My literary hero, who I’d just met through email, was coming to my school! I wrote to him right away to let him know, and we both agreed that it was a very happy coincidence.

David’s presentation to our middle school students was simply awesome. He read from several of his books, and talked with students about Greek mythology, growing up, fairy tales, and book banning. He talked about the publishing industry, and what it takes to be a writer. Most importantly, he made my students – a group of not-so-privileged kids from a very small, rural town in the mountains – see that their lives could be an adventure, and that with a bit of luck and whole lot of passion, they could have a life that they’d be proud to live.

Benjamin Ludwig is a New Hampshire, public school teacher and writer. He is the author of Ginny Moon, published by HarperCollins | Park Row Books. The book, inspired by his experience adopting a teenager with special needs, was an Indie Next and Library Reads pick, a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers selection, and one of Amazon's 20 Best Books of 2017. To date it has been published in 19 countries. His novella, Sourdough, was the recipient of the 2013 Clay Reynolds Prize for the Novella.

He lived in Alaska for six years, an experience that in part inspired his latest book, Outside, which is forthcoming from Conquest Publishing in November, 2024. He believes strongly in the importance of experiential learning, and that teaching is an art, not a science. He holds an MAT in English education and an MFA in creative writing, and loves hearing from fellow teachers and writers. You can connect with him here, and on Twitter (@biludwig).

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