Terri DeGezelle shares the story behind her story …
Today, my favorite is: American Symbols, Ellis Island, published by Capstone, Press, Mankato, MN.
In 1920, as a little boy, my grandfather, Godefridus Wilhelmus Antonius Heimen arrived in America, with his family from Herwan, Holland, aboard the Rotterdam. I grew up hearing tales of his time on Ellis Island.
When my editor called and asked if I was interested in an assignment, of course, I jumped at the chance. She listed off a few topics and when I heard Ellis Island I stopped her and said, “I’ll take that one!”
My firsthand experience of traveling to Ellis Island was certainly helpful. Standing in the Great Hall, I closed my eyes and listened with my heart to all the conversations that had been spoken there. I let all the excitement, fears and uncertainty wash over me.
I checked out every book from several public libraries and university libraries I could get my hands on and read all the facts and events regarding Ellis Island. I researched documentaries, photos, journals and ledgers from the Library of Congress. When I felt I knew a few facts and had several questions in mind, I called the National Park Service and spoke with Park Rangers who worked on Ellis Island. Finally, I forced myself to sit down in my chair and started to sift through my reams of notes.
The manuscript I submitted to my editor averaged 34 to 36 words a page alternating with photos with a total of 24 pages including a time line, hands on activity, more to read, words to know, internet sites and an index. Ellis Island and only the Ellis Island manuscript had only two or three words the editor wanted to revise. I think, I can honestly say, American Symbols; Ellis Island came from my heart and was well written the first time around.
From this assignment came a fun, fact-filled nonfiction book for students, as well as a picture book manuscript and a popular school visit presentation with student involvement including costumes plus a suitcase filled with items most often brought by immigrants to their new homeland: the United States of America.
Learn more about Terri DeGezelle
- Page 1 of 0