RUSH: Here’s Bonnie in Pensacola, Florida. I’m glad you called.
CALLER: Thank you, Rush, for taking my call.
RUSH: You bet. Great to have you here.
CALLER: Thank you. I just called to give you some good news. I wanted you to know what an impact your series, your Rush Revere Series, had on my students this year and my students’ parents.
RUSH: Oh, thank goodness.
CALLER: I just want you to know my kids learned so much, and at the end of the year we talked about how we probably know more about American history than any other kids in our school, including the fifth graders. Anyway, I just wanted to tell you in person. Well, not in person, but be able to talk to you and let you know what an impact it had. The stories are well crafted. I read one of the books —
RUSH: Now, wait just a second. Wait, wait. Wait just a second
RUSH: That is a profound compliment. You could have said “well written.” But you said “well crafted.”
CALLER: You have the author’s craft. That’s something we talk to our students about; we try to teach them. It’s hard to explain it sometimes, and to find good examples. But your books were full of it, and I have to tell you: The best thing I like besides the historical part in teaching them about exceptionalism was you used so many examples of figurative language, metaphors and similes. And that’s something that third graders in the state of Florida have to learn. It’s one of the standards, and many of them don’t hear what I call “the old sayings” anymore. And your books have them woven in there so many times. I mean, this year I’m gonna keep up with it. We’re gonna have a notebook; we’re gonna have (unintelligible).
RUSH: Now you’re really complimenting me because —
CALLER: Well —
RUSH: — those things, those artistic crafts there that you’re talking about, you know, as one who does not have kids running around all day, I needed some guidance and assistance in writing for 10- to 13-year-olds. And coming up with those kinds of techniques that you described is — I mean, the idea here is to communicate. The idea here is to have, after they read it, no questions, just total understanding. And to try to put things in metaphorically or with analogies, anything that can help people at that age understand, really, the magnitude of what was happening and how important it was. It was crucial. So you really are complimenting me. That’s two profound things that you have observed and I can’t thank you enough.
CALLER: Well, you need to lower that limit because my students are eight and nine years old, and I got the first book last year. My husband listens to you almost every day, and he bought the American Pilgrim one, and I read it, and I thought, okay, it’s written on a fifth grade level, accelerated reader book, so I knew what level it was. And I read it, and I’m very quick reading, and, anyway, it was after Thanksgiving and one of my students, my birthday had just happened, one of my students said, “What did you get for your birthday?”
I said, “I got a new book in a series,” and I told ’em, and a little boy in my class said, “I got that book. My grandmother got it for me.” And I asked him if he read it, he said not yet, he was reading another series of books. Anyway, I said, “When you read it, let me know what you think about it.” And he read it, he really enjoyed it. He was one of my higher readers in my class. He took the accelerated reader test and made a 100, so I knew he understood it, and that was reading it himself, maybe with some family reading along with him sometimes. Then another student in my class read it, another little boy, and he took the test on it —
RUSH: How old was he?
CALLER: Eight and nine. I’m not sure if they had had their birthdays yet. And then another little boy in my room took the test on it after he read it, he made a 100 on it. He also read it on his own.
RUSH: Holy smokes, this is incredible, folks.
CALLER: So, this year, I thought, okay, I’ve experimented a little bit, they seem to understand it. When I got to the study of historical fiction, I thought, what more perfect than to read Rush Revere. So I talked to my students, I said, “I’m gonna experiment. This is a book I’ve never read out loud to my class, and I want to see if you like it. If you don’t, I’ll stop. If you do, I’ll keep reading.” I had ’em after the first chapter. Every day, “Let’s read some more. Let’s read some more.”
RUSH: Is that right? I’ll tell you what, you’re worth a week’s worth of calls of this nature.
CALLER: Oh, thank you. But, anyway, we started in October, we finished right before Thanksgiving, and the timing was perfect. They know so much more about Pilgrims than they ever would have known. But anyway, I told them if they all did well on their accelerated reader test, and they had to make a 60% passing, but 80% proficient, they had to make an 80 or higher, that we would have a tea party. Because when we read the first one, you know, your character worked for a tea company, and I explained to them that that was real. That my husband and I had ordered your tea, and, you know, that part was not fiction, that was real. So I would order that tea for them and we would have a tea party. So they did well, my promise was upheld. After Christmas I brought in the tea, and we had a Boston Tea Party.
RUSH: That is right? (laughing)
CALLER: We went right into the second one, as you know —
RUSH: What an ambassador you are.
RUSH: What an ambassador you are, I said.
CALLER: I am. I love your books. But, anyway, I read the second one and of course when they got to the Boston Tea Party, they found out that it really wasn’t a bunch of people sitting around drinking tea, and they loved it. They loved when Liberty had Boston baked beans, and I was always trying to think of something that I could do kind of as a celebration when we finish. So when Liberty ate the Boston baked beans, that was in their Friday journal. We write in Friday journals every week. They write a friendly letter to their parents, Friday friendly letters is another skill that they have to have. And so many of them mentioned it and told their parents about it. So, anyway, a lot of my kids had never had Boston baked beans so I purchased those and that was what we did if they did well on their test, and most of them liked them. There were a few that didn’t. So then we started the third book, which I finished right before school was out.
RUSH: You made a whole year out of these books?
CALLER: Oh, I did. But the third one I have to say was probably my favorite, coming from a military family myself, and my father was in the Navy, and this is a military community also that I live in, in Pensacola.
CALLER: So, anyway, the third one they absolutely loved. And the whole spy, Liberty sneaking up on the spy and —
CALLER: — using his Dracula voice, boy, you had them on that. But, anyway, I racked my brain, what could I do for a celebration? And it was the lollipops and unicorns that I finally came up with, and at the very end I got party hats, that’s how they were unicorns, and I got what were called unicorn lollipops, and —
RUSH: Okay, when does school start again?
CALLER: It starts August 17th.
RUSH: Okay, we’re about through with the call here because of time.
CALLER: Yes, sir.
RUSH: I have to spend some time thanking you here. You have nailed these books. You have done a better job of explaining why these books are great for kids than I’ve done. And I am the author. This is incredible. I can’t tell you how proud I’m feeling of myself after having talked to you.
CALLER: Well, you should. I mean, these are making a difference.
RUSH: Well, here’s what we want to do. You hang on after the call here. I want to get your name and address, and we have a whole department here that — oh, how to put this. We don’t put a care package together, it’s not really a care package. We have some additional things that you can use for further celebrations, parties, like you were describing that you did the baked beans and stuff. We’ve got some stuff that we’d like to send you that you can use to further the process that you’ve begun here.
CALLER: Well, I have had some contact with Rush Revere adventures, so I’ll have you tell you about that off-line.
RUSH: With Rush Revere adventures, cool.
CALLER: Through the website.
RUSH: Okay. Then that means we know who you are. That means we know who you are, we know where you are. We’re like Google, we vacuum up every bit of data about you. Now, hang on here, Bonnie, do not hang up so Mr. Snerdley can get a FedEx address from you, if you’ll be so good to share it with us.