Seventh graders at Rocky Run Middle School were in for a treat earlier this month. After reading the book “Red Kayak,” they were visited by the award-winning author, Priscilla Cummings.
Growing up on a Massachusetts dairy farm, Cummings had a lot of inspiration to write. She tells students to find ideas for stories from everyday life, “just by looking around you.” After graduating the University of New Hampshire and moving to Annapolis, Maryland, Cummings decided to write stories about the magnificent Chesapeake Bay. Her children’s stories became popular as soon as they hit the shelves. Her most well-known kids’ books are the “Chadwick the Crab” series, but she has written many other books, such as “Toulouse: The Story of a Canada Goose,” and “Beddy Bye in the Bay.”
“I’ve had a lot of amazing experiences while researching for my books,” answered Cummings when asked about the research she’s done. She finds it very helpful to do hands-on research and find personal connections before writing a story. She visited a juvenile detention center, learned how to drive a tractor-trailer, and walked a path from Maryland to Virginia just to research for her book “The Journey Back.” She has also gone to burn units in hospitals, a school for the blind, and learned how to hunt geese. These experiences make her writing more authentic and make her stand out as an author.
One of the main reason Cummings visited Rocky Run was to talk about her book “Red Kayak.” The book is about a boy and his two friends who witness a deadly accident. The boys feel responsible for it because they could have prevented it from happening. The boys end up in court to find that they might have to face jail-time. This has undoubtedly become Cummings’ most popular book, as well as its companion book, “The Journey Back.” Cummings plans to publish a second companion book. She couldn’t tell us much, but we do know that the main character will be a girl.
As two students interested in journalism, we decided to ask her for advice for upcoming journalists and authors. She told us to always keep our eyes open, because a good author can find inspiration in anything. She also explained that the five senses can help you explore your surroundings, but most importantly, always be reading. “There’s a little bit of the author in every book,” Cummings said, “and that little bit is important.”