Not long after my book, “Roy and Kitty” was published, I found that adults were enjoying the story as much as kids were. Mrs. Gross, a teacher at the middle school in Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin, told me she loved the book, and invited me to speak to her seventh grade Language Arts class. I provided a few copies of the book so the students could look it over in advance. I told the class how I had taken a lot of pictures of Roy and Kitty and, at first, had thought of making just a calendar, or a photo book. Then, I realized that Roy, half pug and half beagle; and Kitty, who left a comfortable bed of straw in a horse stable to come live with us, had a meaningful story to tell. A tale of friendship. A lesson about getting along with others even though they may be different. I explained to the students how dogs see things a bit differently than cats do. That’s why in the book you’ll find Roy saying, “That’s what cats do…” or Kitty telling us, “That’s just how dogs are…” Most of the seventh graders had dogs or cats at home, so they knew what I was talking about.
“This bunch of photos, once I put them in some sort of order,” I told them, “made it easy to plan out the story.” Over forty full-color photos show Roy and Kitty meeting, getting to know each other, playing, eating, sleeping, and pretend fighting, becoming best friends. With several minutes left in the period, Mrs. Gross told the class it was question and answer time. I was expecting questions like, “Were they friends right from the start?” or “Who’s older, Roy or Kitty?” or “Do you get paid to write a book?” I was surprised when only one hand went up.
A boy in the second row asked, “How do you get all the lines in the paragraph to line up evenly down the right side of the page?”
I explained, “That’s called ‘justification.’ The computer program does it, re-spacing the letters and words to make each line the same length. It gives the page a nice clean look.”
“Oh, I get it. . .cool!” he said.
With that issue straightened out, there were no further questions. I guess the students had found out everything they needed to know about Roy and Kitty; and had learned that, as the book concludes, “a true friend, one you can trust and rub noses with, is one of the best things anyone can have.”