It was April of 1955 and I was so excited because my 6th grade teacher, Mrs. Neff had invited me to come and help her with a book reading she was going to do at our local library. She would be introducing her newly published book Little Miss Callie.
She wrote a nice note to me on the dedication page of the book:
She dedicated the book to our class because we actually helped her write the book. She would bring chapters into class and ask us our opinions. "What do you think Callie would do about that?". Who started the fire?", etc. And she actually used a lot of our suggestions. So I guess, we did help her write her book. What an experience for a bunch of 6th graders. I'll never forget Mrs. Neff.
This is Mrs. Neff on the right (not a very good photo, you can't really see her well). This is a class from 1951, not our class of '55, but it's the same Westmont school.
The book reading was a huge success, held in the Laura Ingalls Wilder* children's room of the Pomona library. Mrs. Neff knew that my sister, Barbara was a really good artist. So she asked her to do the illustrations for the book. The illustrations were featured at the library that day (wish we still had them). But, alas, the book publisher wanted to use their own illustrator for the book. Barbara lost her chance at fame. She was only about 15 at the time.
After the event was over I got this really nice thank you note from Mrs. Neff:
Inside the card was a lovely floral handkerchief and:
I wish I knew what I did to help with eager willingness. But it's way too long ago to remember. Maybe pour tea, pass out cookies, help her turn the pages of the book? I just don't remember. But I do remember Mrs. Neff fondly. I wish I had gotten to know her better. She had such an interesting life - lived in China and Mexico before she settled in Claremont, Calif. and started teaching at Westmont.
*When I was doing research for this post, I found out that the children's librarian at the Pomona Library was a good friend (through correspondence) of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Because of their friendship, Ms. Wilder donated her manuscripts of Little House on the Prairie and On the Banks of Plum Creek to the Pomona library. Wow! That's really something. In the children's library world that's like having a Hemingway manuscript donated. I'll have to make a pilgrimage to Pomona and have a look. Hope they have it on display. But somehow, I can't go back to the library of my memory. This is the new Pomona library! Not quite the same.
Mosey through the stacks and shelves of more libraries by clicking Sepia Saturday.