Hello from Iowa! I spent the day at Grant Wood School in Cedar Rapids today, where I got to speak with some wonderful students. My husband Gabriel drove up with me (it’s about five and a half hours from St. Louis) because we plan to visit the new National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium in the Port of Dubuque, Iowa on our way home tomorrow. It’s great to have company on these author adventures! Well, our hotel room was very nice, but we didn’t see very much of it because we arrived in Cedar Rapids at about 2:00am last night. This morning, we arrived at Grant Wood School at 8:00am and were greeted by teachers and staff, and a delicious buffet breakfast. A fabulous way to start the day. Next I signed some books, and then met with two groups of students who had made their own books for a contest. It’s an interesting idea – making a book as a team. One team of 3 girls made a book about what it means to be a good friend to someone, and the other team of 3 boys make a book about Cub Scout Pinewood Derby races. I spoke with the 4th and 5th graders before lunch, which was a tasty buffet of homecooked dishes catered by Barb Fulton. In the middle of lunch, some students even popped in to perform the Grant Wood Griffons cheer at the top of their lungs! In the afternoon, I visited with 1st, 2nd, and 3rd graders. This is a picture of me talking with some 5th graders who made a journal book for a class assignment. I love it! All these kids practicing their writing, illustration, AND their cooperating skills by making books together! The teachers were very generous and gave me lots of Grant Wood Griffons swag – I felt like I had just joined NPR or PBS! (…and at the $40 level, we have this lovely mug…) Mr. Hosford, the Media Specialist, even gave me a framed painting of an orchid he did himself! I was also given a copy of the ABC book “H is for Hawkeye: An Iowa Alphabet” which was autographed by all the Grant Wood teachers. Wonderful — I have the Michigan and Missouri alphabets in that series already. At the end of the day, Mr. Hosford invited Gabriel and me to go hot air ballooning with him, but we were so tired that we went back to our hotel and slept until 8:30pm. It was a nice offer, though. Thank you Grant Wood Griffons!