I signed his copy of ‘The Tale of Despereaux’ and he said, “My teacher said fifth grade is the year of asking questions.”
“Really?” I said.
“Yeah,” he said. He took out a notebook. “Every day we’re supposed to ask someone different a good question and listen really good and then write down the answer when they’re done talking.”
“Oh,” I said, “I get it. I’m someone different. Okay, what’s your question?”
“My question is how do you get all that hope into your stories?”
“That’s not a good question,” I said. “That’s a great question. Let me think. Um. I guess that writing the story is an act of hope, and so even when I don’t feel hopeful, writing the story can lead me to hope. Does that make sense?”
“Yeah,” he said. He looked me in the eye. “It’s kind of a long answer. But I can write it all out. Thanks.”
He picked up his copy of Despereaux, and walked away—writing in his notebook.
This was years ago.
Why did I wake up this morning and think of this child?
Maybe because this is a time to start asking good questions, a time to write down the answers, a time to listen to each other really well.
I’m going to get myself a little spiral bound notebook.
I’m going to listen and hope.
-Kate DiCamillo – American author