News from School
In their regular Tuesday library class, fourth graders met author Sally Cook, who introduced them to her new book, Hey Batta Batta Swing: the Wild Old Days of Baseball, and taught them about the process of writing and publishing a book.
Students got to see the journey that a book takes before the audience gets to read it, from generating an idea, to writing, revising, and editing, to partnering with an illustrator, to finding a publisher and selling the book.
An avid reader as a child, Ms. Cook names Harry the Dirty Dog, Curious George, and Harriet the Spy, as some of her favorite books. It was in second grade, she says, that she decided she wanted to write. “That’s when I knew I wanted to make books.”
Ms. Cook emphasized the importance of revisions and editing, demonstrating that writing a book isn’t as simple as writing down a story and drawing some images.
“I probably wrote this book 25 times,” she says, showing images of the various edits her pages went through during the creative process.
Hey Batta Batta Swing arose, Ms. Cook said, from her love of baseball. But she couldn’t do it alone. She worked with Jim Charlton, who is the publications director for the Society of American Baseball Research. “I love baseball, but I wasn’t sure I knew enough facts, so I called on an expert.”
Illustrator Ross MacDonald, whom Ms. Cook has worked with before, created the book’s colorful images. “This book wasn’t so easy for Ross,” she said, “because he doesn’t know baseball all that well.”
Mr. MacDonald was able to connect with the humor of the piece, she says, which is when the work came more easily. He even helped Ms. Cook come up with the book’s title. “I had something more straightforward in mind,” she says, “but Ross said, ‘This is such a funny book—it needs a funny title, too!’”