Once Upon a Dime Author Nancy Kelly Allen
Please welcome guest blogger, Nancy Kelly Allen, author of the book, Once Upon a Dime. Bridges Grade 4 uses Once Upon a Dime at the beginning of unit 2. Teachers may wish to share the author's reflections with children as they prepare to read the book.
The writing advice "Write about what you know" certainly applies to my book, Once Upon a Dime. The setting of the book is a small farm. I live on a small farm. The animals are named for famous Americans. For seven years, I taught American history and focused on many famous Americans. At the end of the story, the tree grows books. After teaching American history, I became a librarian so I was surrounded by books every day. But the similarities don't stop there. One day my husband came in from mowing the fields. He walked upstairs to change out of his hot, sweaty clothes. In the meantime, he emptied his pockets of coins and attempted to drop them into a large pickle jar that served as a piggy bank. Instead, the coins missed the opening of the jar and scattered over the floor with a ting and a ping and a plink. When I heard the noise I looked at my two canine girls, Pippin Pooh and Harrietta Scattercat, and said, "The money tree is ripe and it's dropping its fruit." I immediately realized I had just sprouted a plot for a book. Of course, the sound of the ting, pling, and plink became the sound of the money growing on the tree.
I find that if I write about what I know or a subject I'm interested in, the story is easier to write. When I research, I'm always on the lookout for quirky facts and interesting information. In Once Upon a Dime, I added Chinese money, yuan, to the money crop. The hardest part of writing the story was creating names for the manure used to fertilize the crops. I have to admit, that was the most fun, too.
When I was growing up, my father told funny stories every evening after dinner, and I loved his tales. Now that I'm all grown up, I enjoy carrying on the family tradition of telling funny tales, so once again, I'm writing what I know.
I'm happy to announce that the book is now published in the Korean language. But if you speak English, you'll find lots of activities to use with the book on my website. I also have a word search puzzle and a Reader's Theater based on the book. And it's free. All teachers need to do is download it. I have a Writing Workshop blog which is posted every week and I focus on an aspect of writing in each entry. For the next several weeks, I will be posting places in which students can publish their writing.
Here's my wish for everyone: Be as happy as a pig in a puddle, read.