Hi, everyone! Can’t believe it’s the final week of #GRA19! It’s been a privilege to have shared #TheBridgeHome with you and an honor to be part of #GRABridge. I do hope you’ll stay in touch, by filling out the form at the very end of this post (for a chance to win a special thank you from me – and if I can, I will do my best to try and send a little something to every one who fills in the form). If you aren’t already doing so, I’d love for you to follow this blog (click follow on the right hand side of the screen) and staying in touch on social media (click the icons on the right or follow my posts on twitter @padmatv and youtube, fb or ig venkatraman.padma).
I’m sad that this is the last official #GRA19 week because I’ll miss getting those beautiful photographs of readers in classrooms all over the world, but there’s been lots of lovely news this week, which keeps me hopeful and joyful. THE BRIDGE HOME is a Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2019, a Texas BlueBonnet Award Nominee (speaking of TX, special thanks to Hutchinson School, TX, for your wonderful students who have consistently come up with insightful questions every week), and a Goodreads Choice Award best book of the year nominee! Here’s a link to the Goodreads voting page if you have an account and want to vote: http://bit.ly/32qIAB1
In the coming years, I plan to post a writing-related activity once a month on this blog. As always, if you have a question about my books or writing, click on the title of the post and you’ll be redirected to a screen featuring just this post and if you scroll to the bottom there will be a box in which you can leave the question for me to answer on a monthly basis. I’ve also started a regular guest blog column called COOKING UP STORIES, where I’ll provide a monthly writing prompt (associated with a book for young readers) which will be linked with a recipe provided by Chef Amanda at the Highlights foundation. So if you enjoy writing or reading or food or all three, visit me there the first Friday of every month: click here for the first #FoodieFriday post. I’ll link that on my monthly posts on this blog, too, of course.
Now for this week’s questions. Although I’m in excellent spirits, I’m not in the best of health (I have a sore throat). So some of these questions are answered in writing, although you will see a video as well, below. Sorry it’s not longer – but do please send me your wishes for good health, at least until I’m done with my NCTE/ALAN talks!
Rama, you asked about where I write. Here are some photographs showing places I like to write – the deck, the dock, and my study.
SAGES school, FoxLake, WI, you asked if the book is a letter from Viji to Rukku, and yes, it sort of is. “Sort of” because I find repeated short letters a bit of a trite way to create a book, usually, so that’s why it flows like one long letter. This way you hear Viji speaking to Rukku, just as I heard her voice in my head when I wrote THE BRIDGE HOME. So, yes, Colby Sharp and Matthew Winner and other wonderful librarians have indeed described it as one long letter.
Bettendorf Middle School, you, like many others, asked if I’d write a sequel. I don’t know, but here’s something I am planning to do for sure: in either my next middle grade book or the one that comes after, I will give the characters in THE BRIDGE HOME a cameo appearance, so you get a sense of what happened to them, okay?
Here’s a video with a few questions that came up again this week:
And here’s my call to action, with a few suggestions:
- Viji’s challenge. Viji loves books and yearns to go to school. Perhaps you could help other children who want an education (through an organization such as ASHA for education) or spread your love of reading. For example, maybe you could volunteer to spend time helping another child to read, or collect books for a library or school in need (as Books are Wings does in my home state of RI, USA).
- Rukku’s challenge.The little family on the bridge enjoys independence and freedom and feels rich, thanks to Rukku’s bead business and the money that it generates. Maybe you can find a way to fund-raise for a cause you believe in, or collect money for an organization that you find important. Here are some organizations that were doing good work to the best of my knowledge, and I’m listing them because they are secular organizations that in some way connect with my writing and the characters and themes in THE BRIDGE HOME (but if you decide to donate to them or any other organization, please do check on them by conducting your own research as well): The Concerned For Working Children, Sankara Eye Foundation, CRY, Freedom Trust, V-excel, Community Volunteers in Education, Engineers Without Borders, Environmental Energy Study Institute, Global Green Grants Fund, Southern Environmental Law Center, Wild Aid, Wild Net, kiva.
- Arul’s challenge. Arul is quiet but strong. Arul keeps his promises and never breaks his word. Think about your behavior and your habits. Make a pledge to change the way you act, in order to help the environment and reduce waste – and keep your pledge.
- Muthu’s challenge. Muthu enjoys speaking up. In his honor, maybe you’d like to speak up about something that concerns you, or write an open letter with positive suggestions for solutions to a problem your community faces, or send a letter to the editor of a local newspaper or blog or a senator with specific ideas on how to help change a situation for the better.
- Lalitha’s challenge. Lalitha loves art. Use art to raise awareness of a social justice issue faced by your community or country or the world – or just create art using recycled materials and think of kids like those in THE BRIDGE HOME and send them your best wishes as you work.
- THE BRIDGE HOME challenge. Build a bridge with words (or actions), maybe just with a smile or a sentence, and share with me what you said or did.
Those are just some ideas I have – you may have more.
Finally, a HUGE THANK YOU! If you would like a chance to win a little something from me to thank you for reading THE BRIDGE HOME, feel free to fill out this form with your Teacher’s Name, School Name, and Mailing address and you may get something from me in the post. So, I won’t say goodbye. I’ll say stay in touch. I look forward to hearing from you in the weeks and months and years to come.