“The book was born when my two sons got into a fight about a lemonade stand,” Jacqueline Davies, the author of the popular Lemonade War series, told Inly’s 4th, 5th and 6th grade students on Tuesday. After reading The Lemonade War this summer, the students were treated to a visit from Davies who led writing workshops, talked about her writing process, and told funny stories. “It was never going to be a series,” she told the students about her best-selling book. But, after so many letters from kids who wanted to hear more about the adventures of Evan, Jessie and Scott, Davies kept writing. The next three books have followed the kids through a school year, and the fifth and final Lemonade-based adventure, The Magic Trap, will be published next year.
Davies began her presentation by talking about the reasons the Lemonade War books are so popular with kids. Our students had a few ideas:
– Siblings! When Davies asked how many of the students have spirited disagreements with their brothers and sisters, most of the hands in the room shot up!
– Money. Davies asked them what they would do with a million dollars, and there were some interesting responses: an iPhone, a hamster and….a diamond bathroom with a gold toilet.
– And lemonade. Lots of kids have had lemonade stands – or at least been to one. It’s a nearly universal childhood experience. A side note: I’ve never liked lemonade, but I stop at every kid-operated stand and buy a cup. After I’m a mile or two down the road, I return the lemons and water to the earth!
Talking with our students about writing their own stories, Davies stressed the importance of character motivation and starting with a problem. “Keep the reader leaning into your story,” she said. As an example, she used episodes from her own childhood….building her story until the kids were at the edge of their seats, and then….leaving it with a cliffhanger ending. That, Davies told them, is how to build interest. The kids begged her to finish the stories, and being the nice person that she is, at the end of the workshop, the stories got their happy ending!
The teachers were especially grateful that Davies spent so much time talking about the revision process. Just the right message at the beginning of a new school year!