“I read a book about a dog that could smell cancer. Her name was Molly,” stated a 2nd grade girl. She remained for a few more minutes and then moved down the school’s hallway to engage other authors.
I was invited to a local elementary school’s “Literacy Night” and was initially apprehensive since Rocky’s story does not target such a young group of readers. I cautioned the event coordinator that although K9 Rocky has been described as a love story between a man and his dog, it also includes scenes of violence and some adult subject matter. She did not waver with her invitation and I committed to the event.
Preparing for the night, I cinched up my tie, a clothing item I truly detest, and headed to the school with a planned ½ hour presentation that included power point slides. On arrival, I wandered inside and found the gymnasium where the audio-visual person was setting up equipment. Elementary aged kids scurried in and out of the gym as the event coordinator introduced herself and said, “I’ll take you to your table.”
My table? Uh-oh.
Down the hallway was a banquet sized table, a huge table, with a classic folding chair positioned behind it. “Here you go…set it up however you want,” she said as she disappeared into the wave of people milling around in the hallway.
Nearby, I glanced at another author’s table and was impressed with the display. Multiple books with colorful covers were fanned out on the table like a peacock’s tail feathers. She had written several children books and it was obvious she was a veteran attending such events. I sat in my chair and stared at the immense surface area on my table. It seemed to grow in size as I cracked open my briefcase and tossed out 2 copies of K9 Rocky. They appeared like tiny islands all alone out in the immense ocean. I cussed at myself for not asking more details about the evening.
I could have brought medals, plaques, certificates….heck, I could have event brought Rocky! Had I simply asked a few more questions, I could have really decorated this table!
While beating myself up, parents suddenly approached and asked about K9 Rocky. Some had children with them, some did not. While embarrassed with my meager display, I visited with them and answered questions. The little girl who told me about the cancer detection dog chatted with me and then several books sold. Remarkably, the supply of books inside my briefcase ran out, so I hurried out to my car and reloaded. Soon, the school’s intercom system crackled to life and announced my presentation was about to start in the gymnasium.
Just like my table, I did not ask enough questions about the audience as I had assumed there would only be a handful of parents. I was wrong. Instead, in the front row were a large group of students eagerly sitting on the floor with adults standing behind them. I had to shift gears. On the fly, I changed my presentation to be more suitable for a younger age group. My impromptu presentation was choppy at times but at the end, little hands shot into the air with questions.
Good questions. Mature questions.
The students were well disciplined, respectful and when my time expired, many came up to thank me and shook my hand.
After the rush of students, waiting parents approached to ask questions and, surprisingly, more books were sold. My book supply dwindled and then the PTA bought a book that was logged into the school’s library. I later left the school with only one book making the return trip home and I had a large smile etched in my face. It was nice to have shared Rocky’s story, but I was so impressed with the students. I wrongly imagined elementary kids running around, out of control, with their shrieking voices echoing throughout the hallways. Instead, I experienced the complete opposite and was taken aback.
Immediately after getting home, I emailed the coordinator to express my sincere appreciation and how much her school children had left a mark on me. The next day, she replied. She had mentioned how elementary aged boys are the toughest group to get to read and she felt K9 Rocky would get their nose in a book. And, she added that “you are the buzz around school today.”
I was caught off guard with my table, my presentation’s audience but mostly, I was knocked over with the children and their immaculate behavior. They gave me a bright outlook on the future and I hope they are motivated to read Rocky’s story.
What an experience!