Archived Stories for Union County Public Schools
5th Grade Readers have been Inspired!
Michela Kayea and Madelyn Santos from Mr. Haas's fifth grade class contacted author Kathleen Duey who wrote the book "Hoofbeats". The students loved the book so much that they wanted to contact the author to find out more about her and her writing techniques. They wanted to find out things like "What inspired you to write Hoofbeats?" The authors response was that she grew up in a very rural part of Colorado. Her horses were her best friends when she was a girl and she loved their honesty and kindness.
Then the girls wanted to know "Who made you think about the characters in the book?" The author responded that she always starts with research to learn as much as she can about people who lived in the place that she is writing about. She learns the history of the place by calling museums and historical societies and historians and they help her find old newspapers and letters written by people who lived during the time she wanted to write about.
One of the characters in the book is Hiram and our students were curious about how Mrs. Duey came up with this him. Mrs. Duey responded that when doing research, she read letters that had been written by a man named Hiram, mostly to his grandchildren. He was so kind and patient, and she wanted the book to include someone who would be kind to Katie, another character from the book.
Our students know that sometimes authors write about things they know from personal experience so they asked the author "Did you ever face any of these problems Hiram, Annie Katie, and the horse did?" The authors response was that she had not face the exact same problems but continued on that everyone has bad days and challenges to face and people almost always have to find their courage somewhere along the way. She knew a horse like the one in the book. He belonged to a nieghbor of hers when she was a girl. He had been beaten, very badly treated. It took a year for him to trust her enough to let her touch him. She will never forget how she felt that day.
Lastly, the girls asked "Where did the title "Hoofbeats" come from?" Mrs Duey explained that she has always liked the sound and rhythm of horses' hooves on the ground. The word "hoofbeats" is a real word for the sound of a horse galloping, just like the word "footsteps" descibes the sound of a person walking.
Our students were surprised and excited that an author took time out of her busy day to sit down and respond to their email and provide such detailed answers. They are excited about contacting other authors in the future when they read a book that has touched them as much as "Hoofbeats" has touched them this year.
Written by: Heather Shulman, Instructional Assistant
Posted: May 08, 2012 by Heather Shulman