Meeting Katherine Paterson
Last night my classmate, Trent, and I were Katherine Paterson's guests at a showing of The Tale of the Mandarin Ducks, adapted from her picture book, at the Lost Nation Theater in downtown Montpelier. The play wove in music, dance, and puppetry and was lovely.
The theater itself is also charming. It's in a building with a central clock tower. Comfortable new seats are arranged on three sides, rising up, so that everyone has a good view.
Mrs. Paterson had reserved seats in the middle section, second row. Four seats had white paper attached with the name "Paterson" typed in big bold font. At the end of the show, a member of the cast alerted the audience to her presence. Everyone clapped and she stood and waved and quickly sat back down.
When we entered the theater, she greeted quite a few people and introduced several to Trent and me. She's so down to earth she could easily be from Iowa.
Earlier this year she won the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, the richest prize in children's literature (about $700,000). My friend, Phyllis, recently alerted our critique group to the website about the award and Mrs. Paterson's gracious speech.
She's giving the opening address this evening to kick off this residency. Trent will be introducing her.
He got to know her after he read Bridge to Terabithia while on active duty with the National Guard in Afghanistan. He wrote to her from there. I imagine she doesn't get too many fan letters from soldiers in a war zone.