Pen Pal Discovery

I normally love to get snail mail, but when I looked at the two envelopes addressed to me, it reminded me that I better get going reading the book for that pen pal program I signed up for. How can I answer the letters if I didn’t start the book? But when am I supposed to read a whole book? Between the laundry, work, dinner and a million little everyday tasks calling for my attention, the letters sat unopened.
As I crawled into bed that night, I grabbed the book and purposed to at least read two chapters. Rules, by Cynthia Lord. Young Adult Fiction. Shouldn’t be too hard to read. The first few pages were intriguing, sucking me right in. The next few took a hold of my heart. I couldn’t put the book down, and I found myself crying a couple of times. I wish I could write like that…

The two letters still remained unopened on my kitchen counter. The book was great, but now I had to actually write to these 5th graders I didn’t know and make it interesting for them. Maybe I shouldn’t sign up for the program next year–just one more thing my life… I looked at the envelopes. The handwriting on the first one was all neat and straight–a girl, I bet; the other one, by contrast, was scratchy and messy–a boy, for sure. Curious, I opened number one. “Hi, I am Maddy!” A school picture fell, and I picked it up. Maddy has red hair and blue eyes. I like that. She doesn’t have a favorite candy, but she wants to be a vet when she grows up. I wonder if she is good at science? Maddy likes seafood. She writes that she feels sorry for David, the little boy in the book. I have to tell her that I think David isn’t unhappy. By the way she writes, I can tell Maddy is a leader–she wants to take charge of everything. Maybe she is the oldest of many? She didn’t tell me about her family. I’ll ask her about it in my response to her. I reread the beautifully hand-written page twice, and I picture her crafting the words carefully. I smile.
My second letter is from Cooper. He calls me by my first name and tells me he loves fishing, hunting, hiking, exploring and football–a real boy. He gets right to the point, where Maddy obviously tried to butter me up. Cooper is on page 24. He wants me to compare what I like about the book to what he likes; challenging task. Cooper’s punctuation is perfect, down to the name of the book underlined. His signature is in block letters, bold and original. I think Cooper is smart, and happy to be Cooper. I like that.

The two unwelcomed envelopes now gifted me with a delicious feeling. A real boy and a complicated girl were in there, Cooper and Maddy, complete with personalities, likes and dislikes. I picked out special stationary–pink for Maddy (her favorite color, she told me), and bluish-gray for Cooper.
Dear Maddy…



  1. My penpal is Brittany….she's a hoot!!! Her favorite things to do are swimming, cheerleading, singing, and fishing. She also likes hip hop. I am so thankful to her teacher for letting us share in the lives of these young people. I don't have my book yet (ordered it on Amazon…..waiting…..)and dear Brittany is on page 60. Oh well, I can still send her a letter.


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