The week of April 27, the Afterschool Adventure students had the great fortune of meeting a real, published author. Matthew Baker released his first children’s novel, If You Find This, on March 17 with Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. If You Find This follows a young boy named Nicholas. Nicholas is a math and music prodigy, and he takes readers on an adventure to find his grandfather’s hidden treasure.
When Baker visited the CYC, he read an excerpt from the first chapter of the book. Because Nicholas plays music, Baker wrote the book to include “dynamics” under certain words. “Dynamics” tell musicians at what volume notes should be played. Forte, for example, indicates a note should be played loudly, while piano means a note should be played softly. By placing these annotations in his text, Baker brings the reader even further into Nicholas’ world.
“Those are really hard to show when reading the book out loud, but I still want you to get the full effect,” he explained to the kids. Baker distributed signs with forte and piano printed in a large font to two students. He cued them like a conductor, instructing when to wave the paper in the air.
Baker has wanted to be a writer since 4th grade. When he discovered his love of reading and the experience of being able to enter another person’s world, he knew he wanted to do that for others. Much like his protagonist, Baker also had a fondness for music and math, which is what inspired him to include those elements in If You Find This.
After Baker finished reading, he answered questions the students had about the writing and publication process. One student showed particular interest in how he generates ideas.
“Everything interests me,” he said. “You can write about anything. We live on the only known planet, in the universe, with intelligent creatures. If you ever have trouble finding ideas, stay curious about the world and about other people, and you’ll always have ideas.”
This prompted a discussion about where they get their ideas. Family, friends, music, TV, and movies were all very popular.
“I get my ideas from memories,” said Topaz, 4th.
Because the kids will read their work at the release party of The Book of Explosions IV: Tiny Purple Thunderlights, on May 20, they also asked Baker if he is ever scared to read his work in public.
“[Reading your work] is really scary, and it took a long time for me to get used to it,” he said. “But, even if you’re scared, it’s also really exciting.”
Baker gave the kids advice on how to prepare for the big event, including practicing beforehand. He told them to try reading out loud, alone, because it erases some of the anxiety . He also believes in the power of dressing for success.
“Try and wear your favorite outfit,” he said. “Something that you feel really comfortable and confident in. That will really help.”
A huge thank you to Matthew Baker for spending the week with us! Check out his website for information about If You Find This and other, upcoming projects.