Today’s letter comes from the International School in Palo Alto, CA, and it’s written by Chih-Hsuan. But that’s not the best part. The best part is that it includes a brand new code — and I cracked it!
Here’s the letter:
It’s always amazing to receive fan mail. When you think of the world today, how many people on the planet receive actual letters? What’s more, you wrote to me about a book that I wrote 15 years ago. That’s before you were born!
I’m glad that I’m still alive to read it.
And I mean, I’m very glad. The old ticker is still working!
I love your code, which is a variation of the List Code that Mila created in the book. At first it looks like a shopping list: 4 peanuts, 3 lobsters, 26 tomatos, etc.
The number, of course, is the key which directs me, the reader, to the proper letter. 3 lobsters means: “b.” What stumped me, briefly, was 26 tomatos. Hmmm? The letter “z”? Then I separated the number into its parts, a “2” and a “6.” Oooooooh. Double ooooooh!
Your secret message: FUN BOOK!
Thanks for that.
I should also thank you for getting me to pull that book off the shelf. I was actually charmed by the first page — a good beginning, I thought, in which I introduce a new character:
The pink bows didn’t fool me. I ignored the matching lace socks and the little red plastic pocketbook. I knew that Sally-Ann Simms was one tough cookie.
So what if she was only four and a half years old.
Sally-Ann stood in my backyard, hands on her hips. She shouted up to my tree house, “Jigsaw Jones! You up there?”
I was up there — and I told her so. “Take the ladder,” I called down. “The elevator’s broken.”
It’s a relief for me to read something I wrote long ago to discover that I still like it. Not bad, I think. And “not bad” is “pretty good.”
You asked why Joey didn’t simply throw his egg sandwich away in the trash. Good question. I think he felt bad about wasting food, so he wanted to get rid of the sandwich without anyone noticing. Of course, as a storyteller, I needed Joey to hide it in the volcano to help keep my plot moving forward. I have to confess that the smell of hard-boiled eggs makes me flee the room. It’s just one of those odors that I can’t tolerate. Yuck. Super yuck.
Thanks for writing to me, Chih-Hsuan. And thank you, also, to the good folks at Scholastic for still sending along those letters, long after the book’s been published.