Hi blog readers! If you have looked at my blog before, you'll know that I do many school visits and so it's not so unusual that I post a pic of myself with a group of students. But today's pic is VERY SPECIAL! That's because it was taken at my first school visit ever in the Netherlands. I spent part of the afternoon at Isendoorn College, which is quite close to the medieval town of Zutphen where we are staying and where my opa was born.
I asked the students whether they had ever heard of my opa, Jo Spier -- and one of them told me he knows of Jo Spierlaan, a street in Zutphen!
A student named Florian (that's him in the middle of the pic, wearing a black T-shirt) asked, "Do you have a story of your own?" I thought that was a great question and you know what, Florian? In all my school visits, no one ever asked me that.
(I told him the answer is yes, but that book is not scheduled to come out till fall 2013!)
What, you must be asking yourself, am I doing in this second pic?
Why, smelling my opa's old paints of course!! After the school visit, Christiaan, the curator of Musea Zutphen, brought me and my sister-in-law Penny (I didn't tell you yet, but my brother Mike and my sister-in-law have joined our party now too!) to the museum climate-controlled storage room where they have some of Opa's belongings.
When I was a little girl, I used to stand by Opa's drafting table in New York (he moved there a few years after the war) and watch him draw and paint. Those old paints I am smelling in the pic still have a faint odor -- and when I smelled them, I was briefly transported back in time to those happy days.
On the way back from the museum to the hotel, Penny noticed MY BOOK smack-in-the-middle of a store window here in Zutphen. I got a kindly young man to snap a photo so you have evidence!
Tonight, we're having dinner with my Dutch publisher and editor, then I speak at the museum... but I think I'll wait till tomorrow to submit that report to you, dear blog reader. I don't want to tire you out with all my adventures!!
This part of your visit in our country and opa's hometown was very special to me too.
It's good to tell the story to the younger generations in their own language.
And also teaching them about storytelling (and wrting).
We loved having you in Zutphen and Warnsveld (and also your mother ("Lotte") and father
By the way, Your opa was bigger than a street, he got the Jo Spierlaan ("laan" is more than a lane, it's avenue)