Cold enough for ya?

February 19, 2015 • Posted in careers/jobs for people who are blind, guide dogs, Hanni, questions kids ask, Seeing Eye dogs, travel, Uncategorized, visiting schools, Whitney, Writing for Children by

The predicted high today is 4º. Some of our Chicago friends have escaped to Florida, Mexico, Costa Rica. Whitney and me? We took off north, to Wisconsin.

I’m writing from our hotel in beautiful Menomonee Falls, just outside Milwaukee. Whitney and I are preparing for our visits to schools in nearby Mayville, which, according to the city web site, is “a growing city of 5,240+ residents.” How is it that this tiny town found out about me and my dog and my book and asked us to come? Let me explain.

horacemann

Hanni and I during a visit to Horace Mann School in 2009.

Six years ago Hanni, the star of my children’s book Hanni and Beth: Safe & Sound and I spent the day at Horace Mann elementary school in West Allis (a suburb of Milwaukee). A high school friend was teaching there at the time, and our visit was billed as a reading incentive program.

After our day of class visits, Hanni and I returned to the school in the evening to spend time with the kids and their parents. Families wrote books together that evening, and when I signed copies of Hanni and Beth: Safe & Sound in print and in Braille for the kids, they had me sign my name into the books they’d written with their parents, too. As the evening drew to a close, I told these budding young authors that I had to get home. “I need to get some sleep!” I said, explaining that Hanni and I were waking up early the next morning to be interviewed on Morning Blend, a show on WTMJ-TV, the NBC affiliate in Milwaukee.

After hearing this, one of the kids there asked my very favorite question of the entire day: “What does it feel like to be a world famous author?”

And so, there’s your answer. How did the tiny town of Mayville come to ask me to come and visit their schools? I’m a world-famous author.

And now, the rest of the story: one of the teachers who taught at Horace Mann when I visited with Hanni in 2009 teaches in Mayville now. She emailed late last year to ask if my Seeing Eye dog and I could come, then asked the local Lions Club if they would donate the funds to bring me up here. They said yes, and after a cab ride to Union Station in Chicago, a train to Milwaukee, and a bus to our hotel in Menomonee Falls, that teacher is picking me up tomorrow morning for a day full of classroom visits. Like every good teacher I’ve met, this one is resourceful!

I’m looking forward to visiting the Mayville Schools,and who knows, if one of the schoolyards there is fenced in, maybe Whitney will be able to get out and play in the snow.

Laura Gale On February 19, 2015 at 10:41 am

Stay warm up there, Beth. I was up in Wauwatosa on Sunday and Melissa and her friend Susie both said to say hi! The teachers love it when you visit. Have fun!

bethfinke On February 19, 2015 at 5:42 pm

What a coincidence: we love it when we vist the teachers — and their students, too. We have Melissa to thank for this trip, and so far I’m having a ball being spoiled by the hotel staff at the Radisson in Moneomonee Falls — they all adore Whitney.

bethfinke On February 19, 2015 at 5:39 pm

You betcha.

readingwithrhythm On February 20, 2015 at 11:26 am

Sounds like fun for everyone!!!!!

bethfinke On February 20, 2015 at 7:22 pm

It was!

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Nancy B On February 20, 2015 at 4:42 pm

I love that Hanni is totally sacked out in that picture. Hope it was a fun day!

bethfinke On February 20, 2015 at 7:35 pm

You mean the day back in 2009 with Hanni? Or our time in Mayville today?! The answer is the same for both: fantastic after I explained Hanni and Harper’s retirements to the first graders today, a boy raised his hand and asked, “Why didn’t you bring those two dogs with you today?”

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