I’ve read this several times today. I hope we get many more chapters.
Dan Gutman is a children’s author. You can see his works here.
Last week I asked you if I should respond to an email from a man who said he escaped from Ukraine to Poland with his wife and three children. I guess it was legit. He sent me this photo of his son with the books he was allowed to take with him when the family fled. pic.twitter.com/VCl18nfVqM
— Dan Gutman (@DanGutmanBooks) March 11, 2022
Remember Andrei, the boy who fled Ukraine with his My Weird School books? Well, after everything he and his family have been through, Andrei wrote a story himself and sent it to me… pic.twitter.com/CHqpT5b3Ds
— Dan Gutman (@DanGutmanBooks) March 15, 2022
Chapter 2: This Is Not A Drill
I got an email! Actually, that isn’t the incredible part because people get emails all the time. But this email was special. It was from Dan Gutman!
“Mama,” I yelled. “I got an email from Dan Gutman!”
“Who is Dan?” Mom asked. “And why is he such a good man?”
“Not good man,” I said, rolling my eyes. “Gutman. The guy who writes the A.J. books.”
“Is he the American writer?” she asked in Ukrainian. “The one daddy reads to you?”
“Yes, he’s like Shakespeare, only more famous.”
“Well, you can read his email later. Right now it’s math time.”
“Pozhaluysta can I open Dan’s email? Pozhaluysta, pozhaluysta, pozhaluysta?”
If you want your parents to agree to something, just say pozhaluysta (Russian) or boot-laska (Ukrainian). That’s the first rule of being a ribyonok (“kid” in Russian)
“Okay,” she said, rubbing her forehead. But be quick.”
In his email, Mr. Gutman said he liked my first chapter. He also said that he and his readers were sorry about what was happening in Ukraine. It wasn’t their fault, but I was happy to read it.
“Andrei?” my teacher asked from the zoom meeting, “are you on page 23?”
“Yes, ma’am. The eleven times table,” I said.
As each student said one of the numbers—eleven, twenty-two, etc, the tension was growing. We were all on electricity, and there were pins and needles in the air. Or is it the opposite? I’m still learning English.
“Andrei?” my teacher Olya said, “I want you to—“
But she didn’t get to finish her sentence because suddenly there was a loud siren sound from her computer.
My friends on Zoom also heard it. They were still in Ukraine. Their mommies came in, took their hand and hurried out of the room. I was alone, looking at empty rooms on Zoom and hearing a scary siren.
A.J. always said the eleven times table is dangerous, but I think this was something worse. Something scarier.
As I waited for them to come back, I took some paper and wrote Chapter Two
And the children will lead…
This is an open thread
That is amazing. I love it but at the same time feel sad and/or anxious. I hope Andrei’s classmates are okay!
That young man must be given a publishing contract ASAP!
Utterly wonderful. And so sad. It’s really dusty where I am just now.
Dusty, I tell you!
Here’s hoping for a happy ending.
@Tom Levenson: Nah. Pollen. Spring pollen, lots of it.
OMG, the first email is priceless! I hope this story goes viral and the kid becomes famous (in a good way).
Jesus, y’all are tryin to kill me here.
What remarkable people. And so very, very sad. I hope before long he, his friends and their teacher are back in their classroom learning multiplication tables. And that his family have all the things they are missing.
I have to blow my nose now, the pollen count must be very high in here
Wow, what an astonishing young writer!
Do we know where he is? How to get physical books to him? I’d love to see BJ organise a modest fundraiser to buy all of Dorothy A. Windsor’s and Frankensteinbeck’s series (I’m probably forgetting other age-appropriate writers in our midst; sorry) and send them to him! I think Andrei and his friends would ❤️ LOVE ❤️ them! Anyone with me on this?
@SiubhanDuinne: This is a great idea!
You know, Putin is afraid that the rest of the world wants to erase Russia. I’m ok with this.
@Ksmiami: Not erase Russia. Just erase Russian War Criminals. After a fair trial, of course.
We’ll need a good location. Think we can use Nuremberg again?
D’AW. You guys! And girls! And other!
Formerly disgruntled in Oregon
What a crazy incredible heartbreaking heartwarming world this is.
Amazing young writer!
Wow! Ohio Son read a LOT of Dan Gutman back in the day.
I don’t know if he made it all the way through the My Weird School series — Andrei is holding up Mr. Mackey is Wacky, other titles include Miss Daisy is Crazy and Mr. Klutz is Nuts, and you get the idea. There must be close to two dozen of them and Son outgrew them — they are for a very specific set of young readers.
Instead Son moved on to Gutman’s books for slightly older readers. We still have a copy of The Homework Machine because I was particularly taken with it (Ohio Son has not a nostalgic bone in his body).
Anyway, those of you who are not familiar with Gutman’s ouevre need to know that Andrei had written quite the tribute.
His story-in-process is heavily influenced by his reading of Gutman, in the way that say, rock and roll built on rhythm and blues. A piece that takes the lessons learned from an older work and expands upon it and makes it the artist’s own.
That it’s written in Andrea’s third language! (it sounds as if he speaks Russian as well as Ukranian).
OMG. I was in such a bad mood till I read this, and now I’m feeling alternately cheered up by this amazing little writer, and also guilty because here I was getting so worked up about my luxury problems when kids like Andrei are living through such nightmare times.
(Snowed in? Can’t get to work or play? Hey, I’ve got food, electricity, plenty of wood for the stove, and companionship both human and animal. And no one is trying to kill me. At the moment, anyway.)
“I learned English from My Weird School” is a phrase my kid and 50% of her friends probably uttered.
Charming/heartbreaking in equal measure. There are millions of Andreis presently untethered from the only homes they have known, many of whom face peril. He’s not lucky but he is truly fortunate.
@SiubhanDuinne: I’d pitch in.
@Dangerman: Denazification of Russia, denuclearization/demilitarization and regime punishment and regime change. We can talk about rebuilding its institutions after
@Ohio Mom: thank you for that context. That there was a structure/style in the 1st chapter was apparent but you explained it well to someone not familiar with the books.
TaMara, thank you for this, and the ongoing feature.
@BeautifulPlumage: What BP said!
Joy in FL
@SiubhanDuinne: I would participate in funding books for Andrei and his friends : )
@SiubhanDuinne: Yes! 1000 times yes!
@Dangerman: Somewhere in Ukraine or Poland. Nuremberg needs no sequel. Let these horrible events stand on their own.
My god, I’m blubbering here. This is heartbreaking and lovely.
I’m in for sending books.
O. Felix Culpa
My allergy meds have stopped working.
O. Felix Culpa
@SiubhanDuinne: I’m in. My kids also loved books like “Bunnicula” and “The Celery Stalks at Midnight.” I think that might be in the same age range.
@SiubhanDuinne: I’ll gladly pitch in.
@SiubhanDuinne: is there a bookshop in Krakow that carries them? Would he want them in Polish to learn that language?
@SiubhanDuinne: That’s a cool idea. I wonder how we would set it up?
I’m thrilled at the enthusiastic response to my totally off-the-cuff suggestion! We need to make this happen! How many degrees of separation are we from Dan Gutman? He already has the relationship with Andrei and could probably obtain a mailing address. @Dorothy* and @F’s’beck, are your books available in other languages besides English?
*DAW, I know perfectly well how you spell your last name. I’m 99% certain I typed “Winsor,” but failed to check what mischief Autocorrect was up to! Sorry.
Gin & Tonic
@Dangerman: The only appropriate location is Kyiv.
Notice her father steered her to interview a radio host who had on hard core white supremists when she needed an interview for a college course. No wonder she doesn’t understand why people don’t like what she is doing.
@Gvg: This is the wrong thread but I already read that useful idiots for profit thread so I understood/followed your comment.
@SiubhanDuinne: I would definitely pitch in for books. It’d be a diversion from cutting all these onions…
I agree with Ohio mom this kid’s writing is dead-on satire of the Gutman style. I truly dread reading the My Weird School series at story time but my kiddos love them. AJ hates school, all the adults are dumb, and the same jokes are recycled every book. Basically a seven year old’s perfect dream world. At least the work has inspired an amazing writer in the next generation!
@Inspectrix: The books I hated the most were the Magic Treehouse series. For a while they were a constant bedtime request. But then, that phase was over, thank the powers of the universe.
@Ohio Mom: Agree! magic treehouse books could have been written by a bot! On the other hand, tonight I read from the kindhearted Humphrey series, for those of us that are delighted by the world’s most emotionally intelligent classroom hamster.
Am very behind in my BJ reading. So sort of flying through posts and comments.
Always read Tamaras’ (?) kindness posts. What a wonderful thing to happen to this young man in a time of stress for his family. I feel so much sadness and pain that is of course, insignificant by comparison. Something good amongst the terror.