Listening to the Cranbrook students contrast my two Red Riding Hood stories with Perrault’s ur-text was truly fascinating, a fly-on-the-wall moment, observing my work from the outside in as they diagrammed and discussed.
Reading the students’ critiques of Kissing the Bee produced a similar fascination, as well as gratitude: to be allowed to watch a reader approach my book and its ideas and observations, to take what it had to offer, to decide whether or not it was a gift worth keeping. . . .Writing is the doubled art of observation and communication: Look, I saw: now you look, too. And reading is the art of reception and reflection, something these students did thoroughly, honestly, and well.
Sometimes one thinks of school visits as something the writer does, gives, to the students. But it’s a two-way street.