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Dear Child Writer: Eagle Snack


Hi Isabel,

So you want to be a writer? You can. Welcome to the game of writing.

Words have power, so choosing your words carefully is the object of the game of writing. It's like your story is a puzzle and finding the right words will make the story shine.

As a writer it's important that you use words that you already know, regular words in your stories. In fact typical words are the backbone of your writing and make it strong. (Just like the words I wrote here. Regular words. Easy words that you know how to read without stumbling.)

Don't be fooled: there are many, many easy words. How many different readable words can you fit into a write? That's something to think about. Our writes will be boring if we use the same words in every sentence.

Using a variety of words makes your writing more fun to read.

But then, every now and then it’s good to throw in some zingers, which are new vocabulary words that you're just learning that have extra sizzle. Finding a few hard words that fit into your writing is one of the ways you can “up” your writing game.

The perfect equation for writing is:

Mostly regular words + several zinger words = a great write.

Again, don't litter your work with too many zingers. That would be like having too much pie: one pie is a great idea, 15 pies is a waste of sugar. So when you write, go easy on the pie: one or two zingers per write.

The zingers I’m going to fit into your letter are:

iota (which means a small amount)


breathtaking (which means really beautiful).

Ready sweet niece? I know how much you love to write stories. Can you find the zingers in this letter? (I picked words that would be a little bit of a struggle for a third-grader so it would stretch you a little bit.)


So. I didn’t travel this past summer, choosing to stay home and wake up in my new house everyday and spend time at my creek. Remember when you were here digging for gold along my creek? Nothing yet, but... you never know. There could be gold!

I love my creek.

Kayaking on the creek is my new way of feeling like an early explorer. Even though there are houses all along the creek, I pretend I’m the first one to discover this area and the wild nature it holds. Sometimes I paddle by myself, sometimes I have friends join me.

Tonight I’m having a Pirate Party with ten people. They don’t know it yet, but I bought pirate hats and pirate telescopes and eye patches and these hysterical swords that we have to blow up.

Just think of the sword fights we can have with blow-up swords. Yea, it’s going to be so much fun.

Aunt Heather ordered dessert, which means that’s what she really-really-really wanted me to serve tonight. So I’ve made a triple chocolate cheesecake, a key lime pie and coconut-banana pudding for Aunt Jen who doesn’t eat sugar. I know. Three totally different flavors. Other people are bringing food, I hope. If not, no worries, we’ll feast on dessert.

I went online and found this skull that you can pour liquid into. I bought it, thinking every pirate party needs a cool way to drink BLOOD. But the skull ended up being smaller than I expected, darn the internet. There’s no way to really know what you’re buying when the photo makes it look bigger.

I think I’ll fill it with cranberry juice and have a welcome ceremony and make everyone put on their pirate hats and eye patches and blow up their swords and then pass around the skull and have everyone take a sip of “blood.”

Because it’s such a small skull, oh…we can call it a shrunken skull, there will be only enough for people to sip an iota of blood. Too bad they can't chug as much blood as they can.

Is this too gross? Yes or no.

Actually the best part of the party will be when we wear our pirate costumes and boat along the creek. Some of my friends haven’t been here yet and I can’t wait for them to see the breathtaking views as we explore with our fake telescopes.

We’ll paddle down to the waterfall because there’s a lot of wildlife there, and then we’ll have to use all of our might to paddle away from the falls, or be pulled over. (The current isn’t that strong, but the idea of falling (ahhhhhhhh) over the falls in a kayak makes the very idea more cinematic or like a movie, don’t you think?)

Oh, by the way. My bald eagle is back. He lives here on the creek, somewhere. I’ve seen him flying down the creek without a paddle, you know, because he has wings.

One day I was on the phone with aunt Heather (Things always happen when I’m talking to her on the phone which is why I get a little scared every time we talk.) (Not really.) (Ok. A little.) and I was talking to her and the eagle was sitting in the tree. I was excited that the eagle was here, there’s nothing like having an eagle that I don’t have to feed or clean up after that feels like a pet.

He feels like he’s mine because he hangs out on my property. I know. He doesn’t belong to me; he belongs to Mother Nature.

And while I was describing him to aunt Heather, he flew off the branch and swooped into my yard. I started yelling, which scared aunt Heather who never knows if I yell when we are talking because there’s a mosquito chasing me or because I’ve just seen a mouse walking on my counter or because a raccoon is staring in at me through the sliding glass door.

In a snap that eagle grabbed a baby bird that was raised in a nest on my deck and had just learned to fly. The baby bird squirmed in the eagle's talons, which are part weapon and part backpack for carrying things. The bird's wings beat slowly like it wasn't in a rush, it was flying by and cleaned up this small piece of trash.

“My baby bird!” I shouted into the phone, which confused aunt Heather because I don’t have any pets.

“What?” she yelled.

I watched from the deck.

“You need to talk.” Aunt Heather said, as if I were a small child whining in front of the refrigerator. “What?”

I felt responsible for the baby bird that was raised on my deck. How could I save it? What could I do?

“The eagle grabbed a baby bird that just flew out of its nest.” I shouted to her.

“Put down the phone. Grab your camera.” She said.

Hello? Sister. Don’t you know? Eagles fly up to 30 miles per hour. He’s already in Dutchess County.

By the way, all of the baby birds are gone. I’m not sure if they moved to a safer neighborhood or if they’ve been eaten by Mr. Eagle.

That happened a few weeks ago. Now as I sit here writing to you, the eagle is back. Not sure what he’s looking for. The baby birds are gone, but he’s staring at my house like he is window shopping. I wonder if he wants triple chocolate cheesecake?

I hope he’s not a bully who’s going to demand more baby birds. How could he threaten me? Carry my house away in his talons while I’m out kayaking? Imagine how confusing that would be, to kayak up and down the creek looking for my house that used to be—right here. Or what if he sat squawking on my dock, demanding payment before I could pull my boat out of the water? I’d have to climb some trees on the opposite bank searching for baby-bird-payment. It could get tiring, having an eagle for a pet.

Luckily for me he can get his own food.

Don’t worry about me. I’m safe., but I’m going to close the curtains.

I return to teaching in two weeks. And you? When do you start school?

Thanks a million zillion for the post card from Hawaii. I feel like I was right there with you discovering seals for the first time and then the second time. And even though I’m not walking along the beach in Hawaii, I feel like I am… from reading your words.

I love the way your words make me feel like I am closer to you. Words are a gift, aren't they?

I’m happy that you get to live near the ocean for a few years. I want to come and visit and see a Hawaiian seal.

Give everyone a kiss from me. And send me some beach love.

Love you,

Love Aunt Holly


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Living the Life of Holly

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