FRAMINGHAM – Author of the popular series, The Lemonade War, Jacqueline Davies gave workshops to Saint Bridget School students, ranging from Pre-K to 8th grade, this week for two days.
Davies, though most well-known for The Lemonade War series, has a total of 13 published books at the moment. She is currently working on eight more books that are all in different stages of completion/publication.
The way the author introduced herself to each group of students was always the same. “Hi, I’m Jacqueline Davies and I write books,” she said.
However, nearly every other aspect of her workshops were different. That is because she tailored each lesson and its subject matter toward the age group with whom she was meeting.
For example, a group of 30 third-graders eagerly sat on the floor as Davies drew a “map” of her childhood home. For example, she drew her house and a tree in the yard that had a wasp’s nest in it. She then continued on to say that her dad had the idea to spray the wasp’s nest with the hose, though when she got to the cliffhanger of what would happen next, she simply marked the picture with an “X”. She told the students this would make a good story idea.
The point of Davies’ lesson with the third-graders was to show them easy ways to come up with story ideas. The author explained that drawing a map of a place you know well and recalling events that happened there is “a really easy tool for getting a lot of ideas for what to write about.”
After Davies explained the process to the third-graders, they were sent to the desks to make maps of their own. They were challenged to mark 3-4 “Xs” where they had story ideas from their map. One student drew an “X” for a story idea on a picture of a figure playing football in front of a house. Another student drew an “X” on a picture of someone walking a dog.
As the class bell rang, the third-graders were sent back to their classroom to finish their lesson with their own teacher. As they left the room, a group of sixth graders entered the room.
Shifting completely from the lesson on story ideas, Davies gave a lesson on historical fiction to the middle school students. She centered around her first published book, “Where the Ground Meets the Sky,” and the research behind it. The book takes place in World War II.
In summary, the workshop was a lesson on how to turn something that is real into a good story.
“Historical fiction should never feel like a history lesson,” Davies said.
As an exercise, Davies had the students write down historical facts hidden in the first few paragraphs of her book as she read them aloud. There were quite a few facts that students found, such as that the book took place in 1944, that saddle shoes were popular and that many people had to ‘do without’. Though many facts were there, students agreed that it read like a novel should, not like a plain history lesson or texbook.
According to Davies, it took approximately 6 months to complete her research before writing the first draft of her book.
Looking back on the process, she explained the difference, and importance, of primary sources, secondary sources and propaganda.
Not only is Davies able to write for different age levels, but it is evident that she is able to engage with individuals of different ages in person as well.
She captured and kept the attention of the students that attended her workshops.
Photos by Shauna Golden