By Denise Dick
Silver Lake, Ohio, resident Shelley Pearsall determined at a young age that she wanted to be a writer.
When she was 13, she wrote a 40-page story about a Vietnamese family’s struggle to leave their country. She found a volume of book publishers at her local library and sent a handwritten letter to a publisher along with a copy of her story. It, along with much of her early work was rejected, but she persevered.
Eventually, her first book, “Trouble Don’t Last,” a work of historical fiction, was published in 2003 and won several awards. It tells the story of a boy’s travels to freedom along the Underground Railroad.
On Monday, Pearsall visited eighth-graders at Volney Rogers Middle School to talk about another of her novels of historical fiction titled “Crooked River.” The Volney students read her book.
This marked the seventh-consecutive year Pearsall visited the school.
“We had a writing contest and chose 16 students for a special breakfast session with the author,” said Mary DePiore Hlebovy, school librarian.
The book tells the story of a young Chippewa Indian man accused of murdering a white trapper in 1812 in Ohio. In voices that alternate between the young American Indian and a young girl in whose cabin the man is shackled, the book tells of the man’s captivity, treatment and trial.
For the contest, students wrote a poem after one of the chapters of the book. It had to be written in the voice of Indian John, the Chippewa man accused of the crime.
Mikayla Rossi, Lucas Hatton, Moeisha Calhoun and Shakayla Robinson were among the winners who read their poems to the author.
“You have a real gift for imagery,” Pearsall said after Lucas read his piece.
Moeisha and Shakayla write with a lot of emotion, she added.
Mikayla said she wrote her poem about how she thought Indian John felt, trying to convey his emotions.
Lucas said procrastination played a role in his poem; he started it late but ended up writing it in about 15 minutes.
“I work better with imagery than I do with emotions,” he said. “I understand things better if I’m able to see them.”