I wrote Meet The Boomer Sisters last year, as a Christmas present to my two daughters (who naturally served as an inspiration for the two main characters). In the process of writing, I quickly learned that even fictional characters have a way of determining their own fates, and my carefully planned plot ended up developing a life of its own.
Ultimately, I think this book is about ideas, with several lessons on courage, learning and love thrown in for good measure. Most of the action takes place at school, and the really significant learning is generally self-directed and self-selected by the awesome kids.
This excerpt comes from Chapter 5. It’s the first day of class at Theodore Roosevelt Elementary School. The teacher, Mr. Federico, is greeting his class, which includes BJ Boomer, and briefly explaining his perspective on learning.
Once attendance was finished, the boy named Brian Bard raised his hand again.
“What are you going to teach us this year?” he asked.
“Teach you?” replied Mr. Federico in a surprised sounding voice. “Why, I’m not sure I’ll teach anyone anything at all, although I do hope you learn a lot in our time together. The thing is, most things worth learning cannot be taught, you know.”
This certainly got the kids attention.
“Well, what about reading?” asked Emma, her red hair swirling as she bounced up and down. “Knowing how to read is worth knowing, isn’t it?"
“Of course, of course! You really are very smart already, aren’t you? Yes, reading is important, and it’s something your parents and teachers can show you how to do. But here’s a secret ”“ your parents and teachers don’t really want to teach you how to read.”
BJ gasped, and several other students looked around confusedly.
“No,” Mr. Federico continued with a grin, "We want to teach you to love to read. That’s what really matters, and sadly, we can’t actually teach you that. Nobody can. All we can do is teach you how to read, and hope you will learn to love it on your own. And knowing how to read isn’t worth much if you have not also learned to love reading.”
“So does that mean we don’t have to learn anything this year? Ha!” asked Emma with a loud laugh.
“In a way, yes. You don’t actually have to learn anything. Of course, if you don’t learn certain things, you’ll be back here in fourth grade again next year, to try again. And I do hope you all learn lots of fun things, but mostly”” he paused and looked around the room, “I hope you learn to love learning.”
From The Back Cover: When BJ and JB Boomer move to a new town, they are excited to be living near their funny Uncle Q. His shop is a fantastic wonderland of mystery, full of mirrors, colors and flying machines.
But… on the first day of school, things take a turn for the worse when they discover the new librarian has emptied the entire library.
Now, it’s up to the Boomer sisters to take action. Together with some special helpers, they launch a plan to take back the school, rescue the real library books and re-enthuse their classmates. (for Grades 2-4)
Dan Ward is the author of several books, including The Radical Elements of Radical Success, Meet The Boomer Sisters and The Desert. He is also the co-founder and Editor-In-Chief of an online program management ‘zine called Rogue Project Leader. When not writing or playing with his two daughters, he serves as an engineering officer in the US Air Force.
9/23 Update by Rosa: I snagged this from Dan’s blog:
Dan shares, “I recently had the rare pleasure of visiting both my daughters classrooms during the school day, to read some chapters of my kid’s novel, Meet The Boomer Sisters. The kids seemed to have a great time, and I know I sure did.
I think this shot really captures the spirit of the moment. As you can see, Bethany was kind enough to help act out some of the scenes.”