The Best Kind of Fan Mail

The second grade students at my school were required to do a book report on any fiction book of their choice. I was elated to hear that several of them decided to read my book, The Smith Family Secret!

Their teacher told me that she would let me see their reports when they were finished. I was expecting neat five paragraph essays. You can imagine my surprise when she brought down five different versions of the main character, Cardiff Smith.


Each Cardiff opened up to reveal the book report itself.


All of them were unique in their own ways. I was especially impressed by their diversity,


by the adjectives they used to describe the main character,



and by their musings on what they would do if they ever met him.



I wish book reports were this much fun when I was a kid!

Reading a book report like this, from children who have enjoyed the story that fell out of my head one day while I should have been lesson planning, is a reminder why I started writing in the first place. Certainly the best kind of fan mail.

What was the best kind of fan mail you’ve ever received? Feel free to share!


  1. Alison, this is awesome! I love kids combining their reading with a thoughtful book report like this one. Very special. As far as fan mail, I’d have to say the letter I received after a Skype visit last week was pretty cool. They said it was the best activity of the year and they already had their field trip. Better than a field trip? Well, you know how second graders can exaggerate…but it still felt pretty sweet.


  2. Kids really know how to make us go, “Awww, sweet!” I am totally using this type of book report in my first grade classroom! Maybe Kirsti Call will get another round next year, with the new improved format! And I do believe we need to read The Smith Family Secret now, too, Alison! Thanks for sharing!


  3. Kids are awesome and so are book people like you. I too love the way the story spaces unfold and the ethnic diversity, which reflects this world of ours. One poignant wish in the last one was “I would ask him to draw my mom money.” Perhaps a struggling single parent? These examples of fan art are fantastic. And so is your story.


  4. A first grade classroom in Texas sent me their pictures of Plink from my book. They were so darling! I love what the kids did for your book! It’s so fun to see pictures, Alison!


  5. Alison, thank you so much for sharing this. I particularly loved reading what the kids would do or ask if they met Cardiff, showing you did an excellent job of bringing your character to life. You should definitely hang the fantastic artwork up on your walls. You are an inspiration, to the kids who read your books and those of us who write them!


  6. This is so adorable!! I especially love that one kid invented the word “friendfull”. This should be a real word!! I also love how multi-cultural the kids character’s are. It just goes to show how many kids picture a character in their own image and I love that! You must be dying at all the cuteness!!!!


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