Photo: Jillian Gabby and Iowa Poet Laureate Mary Swander
Dear Jennifer Jacob Richardson,
While reading your book Winnie at her Best, I felt a bit uncomfortable. Memories of wonder flooded into my head; those questions of "why" that Winnie had also experienced. I had tucked those thoughts into the nooks of my brain, but now they took flight upon hearing your book. The ultimate question—what am I good at?—loomed overhead.
All of my friends have something they are good at. One of my friends is a rubber band in gymnastics; another is a really good basketball player; and another is an amazing swimmer. It was the same for Winnie—her friends had found their "thing". My goal was to find mine, but how? I tried non-stop, doing the splits (unsuccessfully), shooting hoops (poorly), and swimming (not very fast). But I still knew these things just weren't clicking.
Then Winnie did it. She entered in a drawing contest. She drew and loved it! I knew it was time. I had a feeling that if Winnie had the courage, somewhere in me, I did too. I tried out for the play Annie. I sang my heart out, and I felt wonderful! I went home in satisfaction and relief. This is it.
Your book gave me the courage to go out and find something that made me feel good about myself. You also showed me that all people have a purpose in life. I made it into the production Annie, and everywhere I go, you can hear me singing and laughing. No one can do everything, but everyone can do SOMETHING.