Here are a few thank you notes from middle school students followed by writing samples created during Mitali's whole new world presentation.
"You made us laugh, have a good time, and smile. I am wondering if you would like to come to our school again because it was cool to get out of class and learn how to better our writing."
"I liked that you told us those little personal things that make you who you are (author or not)."
"I am so glad you told us how seventh grade was a tough year for you because now I know I am not alone. I like to write, but I never thought about putting my five senses into it. I attended your workshop and you taught me a whole new way to look at writing."
"I liked the way you interacted with us by asking us questions and calling on us. I liked the way you used a remote and didn't have to move to change the slide. I am looking forward to reading your new book about guns."
"You are an idol which many different people admire. Your work is similar to a gigantic river that consists of voluptuous chocolates. I extremely enjoyed your thrilling life-story ... the characteristics of your unique family members kept me on the edge of my seat."
"Your presentation was very interesting and I could really relate to the 'story fix' idea ... I am not usually a descriptive writer, but you opened me up to all kinds of new fascinating ideas..."
"You really taught me about how to set the place in a story. Even today as I was writing my personal narrative essay I was thinking about what you said. I started really putting a lot of descriptive writing and really showing the reader where my story was taking place. I will never forget what you talked about and I think it will really make a difference in my writing ..."
"...Many times when authors visit us they just tell us about their books and writing experience. It was good to be able to learn something this time. I will now use description to give the reader a better sense of what the character is like ..."
"...When somebody new and different comes to your school, nobody knows anything about them, and it was very thoughtful to share some of your past with us. It made everyone feel comfortable around you ..."
"I had so much fun at your presentation. I loved the part when you asked us about what movies we liked and things like that ... you seemed full of energy and that really made me excited. The spices that were passed around smelled so good and tasty. It made me so hungry..."
"...What I found really unique about your presentation was that you used examples that everyone in the 8th grade could relate to ... using unexpectedly modern things relevant to all of our lives really brought me into the presentation ..."
"When I imagined an author coming to our school, I imagined an old lady that would not be patient and excited to do this workshop with us. When you came, I was surprised! You are an energetic woman that likes the same things as we students do ..."
"Thank you for finally proving that books are better than movies. This is a point that I have been trying to make for the past six or seven years. Your slide show was amazingly intriguing. It drew me in from the start. The bright lights and series of books, movies, video games, etc. was awe-inspiring ... I loved how you showed us the flags of the countries/states you lived in and let us guess where the flag was from instead of telling us ..."
"Your voice, your presentation, and your writing advice captured me as I listened to you in the library. Something about it was just so appealing. I felt like you were telling us a story, as you added in facts from your life, when really I was learning about writing. Even though I had just met you, I felt connected to you in a way..."
It only took one step, one soft, fresh blade of grass brushing against my heel to remember everything. As if all the time I'd spent locked away hadn't even happened at all. It was easy to think back to when I was little, and this backyard was my own sunny sanctuary. The sun shone hard and bright, making me tingly inside, but there was also that slight breeze that sent bird songs and dandelion seeds whirling, and dancing circles of gnats and bumblebees. My old swings swung delicately as if holding on for dear life. Beyond them stretched blue sky, the same one that used to swallow all my bubbles and carry away my dreams. — Anonymous
... The chandeliers seemed to twinkle devilishly at me, hanging from the tall ceilings. The portraits of greats long past stared commandingly down from their mounts on the wall-papered wall. The clitter-clatter of high heels and golf shoes on the marble bloors was driven into the recesses of my mind. As if knowing I had to stand, the plush couches and leather armchairs beckoned me from their place near the fireplace. The monotony of the room hit me daily, everything kept the same — all the way to the six tulips in the vase on the mantel. I worked every day, nine to seven, opening the door without gratitude. The rich disgusted me — but I had six kids at home to support. — Shannon G.
I feel a sudden rush of cold water. It's an odd sensation, because at first, in the darkness of the universe, I think I'm dead. But after a moment, I realize I can breathe. I find the switch for my flashlight as fast as I can. A beam of light shoots into the blackness. I swim downwards with my one source of vision that, above water, would probably blind a person, but down here, illuminates a meager fifteen fieet into the distance. A large rock wall looms in front of me. I slow down, frantically kicking my fins. I see the small shine of the eye of an unseen fish. A current comes. I quickly grab a rock and hold on to its algae-covered surface. Suddenly, a huge shadow comes into view. I see horns, wings, a long whiplike tail. At first, I am terrified. But then I realize that this creature is not a demon sent to kill me, but the reason me, my flashlight, my scuba gear, and my new underwater camera are in this icy, black, nothingness-ridden world: manta ray. — Olivia M.
The taxicab I hailed was unsatisfactory. It had a tired, rough look and neon blue paoint worsened its appearance. As much as I didn't want to climb in, the beggar man crowding one side and he persistent vendors crowding the other were more than I could take. Slamming the dilapidated door shut, I watched the vendors scurry to the next victim. The beggar stayed insistently at my cab, which was stuck in traffic. I wanted to yell at the splayed fingers, "Do you know who I am? Go away, you filthy excuse of a person." Finally, the cab took off, narrowly avoiding five other cars and a grocery-wielding woman. I sat back in the air-conditioned car and closed my eyes. — Daisy Y.
A dark shadow appears on the horizon, moving slow. The confederates have somehow discovered our cleverly hidden camp in the valley. I drop the water bucket and make a dash for the camp, a good quarter mile. A deep penetrating blast from behind me hurtles a cannonball that beats me to the mens' tents. My eyes fall on the deep blaze left by the cannonball that awakens the entire camp instantly. Men and women in nightclothes run every which way. I can feel the heat from the blaze as I run toward it. Before the cries of the nurses nearby stop me, I plunge in the flames to help the injured soldiers inside. — Allegra H.
I sit up and find myself in a dark forest on a long, winding road. On the ground next to me is a huge bulging backpack. I grab the pack and continue down the road. An icy wind sweeps past me and chills my skin. In the distance, I see a small hut wtih gleaming candles perched on the window sill. As I near the building, I smell a stew boiling away over a fire. I turn around and see the dark trees, looking more menacing every second. In the distance, a wolf howls sadly, calling to the moon. — Shawn C.
I sit on the blue leather seat of the terminal. I wish that baby would stop crying and that lady on the loudspeaker stop making a silly announcement every two seconds. I'm just realizing how desperate my situation is with Mom and Jon gone. The tears well up inside me; I've been petrified the past few days. With my thick brown hair unbrushed and the same outfit on that I've worn for two days, I can only imagine how I look to strangers. I'm hungry, but the smell of hot dogs on a stick doesn't seem appealing. — Anonymous
As I run down the long dirt road, I can see seagulls soaring high above my head, their cawing talking to my soul. I reach the narrow path leading the wide, vast, open beach, and can taste the salty water on my tongue. The mist in the air cools my body, and the small waves crashing on the rocks soothe my mind. I feel like I can fly as I step on the first rock. On the beach, I stop. The huge beach houses, full of windows, shine in the afternoon sunlight. The glare of the ocean is too much to bear. I turn and start to run home. — MW
I look around, seeing the busy sidewalks, with people of different heights bobbing in different directions. The sun creating a blanket of light over everything, only to hide the needy and poor hiding in the dark shadows looming over them from towering buildings. I see people getting into taxis and driving off into the current of cars. I only stop to look at the never-ending clear blue sky. The light and chilled wind blowing on my face, blowing branches with no leaves. I see scarves around people's necks flying behind them like flags on a pirate ship. My only worries have to do with money, taxes, and my job that slipped through the cracks between my fingers like melted butter. — Chris S.
My feet crunch on the dry, crisp leaves. The glossy moon casts eerie light over the massive trees surrounding me. Cautiously I glance over my shoulder, expecting to be followed. As my hands shiver in my coat pockets, I wonder what is hiding out in the darkness. I creep and crawl around mysterious shadows, looking out for jagged sticks and rocks. An owl hoots and I nearly break into full sprint. Will I ever find the campsite? I inhale quickly and the cold air bites at my throat. — Lily L
The boat scrapes against the hard, cold grains of sand leading up to the beach. The front side of the cube that we are standing in swings open to invite us to come into the flying bullets above us. The company rushes out. I am the fourth to go into this swirling hail of bullets. I am just about to leave when my foot gets stuck on a mysterious object I do not see. I fly forward, losing my balance. I land on the beach. I close my hands, grasping the cold, unforgiving land on which I know I wll suffer a premature death, along with my peers. My muscles hinge together as I try to get up. I then feel something puncturing my skull. My muscles realx involuntarily. I know my journey has ended. — Anonymous
I glare into the blistering light shining on me like a sentry with his trusty flashlight. The smell of the newly cut grass is an aroma dancing about in my nose. Thousands of fans are cheering like maniacs, their painted faces a sea of red, white, and blue. I step onto the field and the noise skyrockets. It's game time. — Anonymous
It was a drizzling September evening. The leaves were slowly drifting down from the multicolored trees. The blistering smell of moss and rotten leaves was early for the time of year. Nevertheless I had to face the facts. I was on a shortage of food, and I had not a drop of water. — David L.
Another math class. So much talking and so many words that I cannot comprehend. My teacher talks with that American accent that all seems the same to me. I have been in this chair for days and weeks but the subject is still mostly a mystery. Others constantly raise hands and write numbers in their small white books. No one knows my name; if only I could give it. Teachers give me the papers but I just let them sit on my my desk and blow in the wind. Sometimes I try and communicate but my native words mean nothing to the others around me. A bell rings and I see my teacher point to the door. I gather my things and scurry out of the room as silently and quietly as I came in. — Anonymous
The streets were empty. The only sound that came to my ears were the rustling winds. Chay was standing there; he didn't move. The sun was hiding behind a cloud. You could see his anger, his fists were to his sides and he stared you down. But his eyes were blank, you could see right through them. Both him and Matt were standing face to face. There were about ten feet away from each other.
"What?" Matt laughed, "Are you just going to stand there?"
Chay kept staring right at him. I've never felt so nervous. I'd seen these guys fight before, but I knew this time was going to be different. Matt was getting angry; he never had anyone stand up to him like that.
"That's it!" he yelled. "I'm gonna enjoy this!"
He ran towards Chay, lifting his fist up to punch him. Chay just stood there, staring. I couldn't watch. I had to close my eyes. I heard a scream. I couldn't tell who it was. — Anonymous