Author speaks at BES

Published 10:23 pm Thursday, February 28, 2013

Sheila Turnage (left) signs a copy of her book, “Three Times Lucky,” for BES student Kayley Hudson (right) as Gini Phelps and Tommy Smith wait to take a photo with the Pitt County author.

Sheila Turnage (left) signs a copy of her book, “Three Times Lucky,” for BES student Kayley Hudson (right) as Gini Phelps and Tommy Smith wait to take a photo with the Pitt County author. (Mona Moore | Daily News)

BATH — Bath Elementary School students welcomed a celebrity Thursday. Farmville author Sheila Turnage visited BES to discuss her latest novel, “Three Times Lucky,” winner of the 2013 Newberry Award.
“Three Times Lucky” was named one of the best books of the year by the New York Public Library and made several top children’s books lists, including Publisher’s Weekly and the Wall Street Journal. It was also named the Booklist Editor’s Choice for best Books for Youth in 2012.
Bath Teacher Paula Eubanks booked the event last August, before Turnage won the award.
“I was lucky to snag her before she became famous,” Eubanks laughed after the presentation.
She was drawn to Turnage’s book, which she called the funniest children’s book she’s read.
“I could go on and on and on in praises of this book,” she said.
Eubanks’ students agreed. Student Tommy Smith said the book is his favorite.
“Other people should read it because it’s a great book. Children love it. Grown-ups love it. It’s very funny,” Smith said before he posed for a photo with the author and got her to sign his book.
Turnage said she did not realize she had written a children’s book until her publishers told her that was what it is.
Smith enjoyed Turnage’s visit. He said it was great hearing more about Turnage’s sequel to “Three Times Lucky.” The author even hinted at what students could expect from a third book in the series.
Turnage told students speaking engagements are the best parts of her job. The BES students, whom she described as attentive, polite and full of great questions, really impressed her.
“This group was fantastic,” Turnage said. “This is the first group I’ve been in that had such diversity, age-wise.”
Students at the assembly ranged from first grade to sixth grade. Some came with prepared questions on index cards. They decorated the room with drawings about “Three Times Lucky.” Turnage took a few of the drawings for her office walls.
“I would take them all, if I could,” she said.
Students got a glimpse into Turnage’s life during the assembly. She introduced them to her blind dog and ill-tempered cat through a PowerPoint presentation. There were photos of her chickens, Turnage barefoot at the computer (her favorite way to write), her desk and stacks of notebooks.
Turnage lives on a farm with her husband, blind dog, ill-tempered cat, a dozen chickens and a flock of guineas. She showed students photos of her home and the country road that leads to it.
She showed students how much her life is like theirs, then told them they, too, could become a writer.
Turnage showed students a photo of her when she was in first grade. She recalled writing a story that her teacher said was excellent.
“She could’ve said anything. She could’ve said, ‘You made your b’s backward,’ but she didn’t,” Turnage said. “I’ve been a writer ever since. That’s how I’ve thought about myself ever since.”
Beaufort County Schools curriculum director Glenda Moore loved the story.
“That goes to show how positive intent goes a long way inspiring children,” she said.