Over the years I have received many letters from kids. These days of email, twitter and Facebook, I’m impressed and glad that teachers are still teaching letter writing skills. Most of the letters I receive by mail are set up exactly the way I learned when I was a child. In a recent letter from South Africa, an 11-year-old girl asked a question about a riddle on page 19 of I SPY SPOOKY NIGHT. She noted that in the riddle I ask for “a big red box with a rebus clue.” She found the box but needed help reading the rebus. I wrote back to her that a rebus has pictures that stand for words. Since she wrote such a lovely letter to me, I told her what the rebus clue said, but I’m not going to tell you. I will, however, give you a clue. The first word in the rebus message is “Go.”
In 2011 I received a letter from an 8-year-old boy who lives in the Midwest. He wrote these profound words that I often quote: “I like I SPY because it is very hard. Some things are very close to other things. It is a really big place.”
My favorite recent letter is from a child in South Dakota named Riley. I don’t know if Riley is a boy or girl, and I don’t know Riley’s age. I think that Riley’s teacher suggested that students writing to authors ask interesting questions. Riley wrote: “I love your books. The I Spy books are hard and cool. Do you like mustard on your hamburger? Do you like baby pugs? Do you like pizza?” I wrote back and answered no to the mustard, and yes to the pugs and pizza.
Each of these three letters is written from the heart. I commend the teachers and students because that’s one of the most important qualities in good writing.