FARMINGTON — A 9-year-old author from Thorndike met with Mt. Blue elementary students Thursday to talk about writing and the work behind her first published book.

After hearing Lydia Schofield read “Bendy Wendy,” a group of fifth-graders at Cascade Brook School tried to guess how many revisions it took to write the final copy of the rhyming children’s story.

“Five.”

“Five hundred!”

“Thirty seven?”

Lydia’s mother, Tiffany Schofield, joked that the book took so much hard work that sometimes it felt as though 500 revisions were made before it was published.

“Actually, it was 75 times,” she said.

Lydia, who writes under the pen name Jo Jo Thoreau, visited three elementary schools Thursday in the Farmington-based Mt. Blue School District to read her book “Bendy Wendy” to the classes and talk about her writing.

After visiting two elementary schools, Lydia made her last stop Thursday afternoon at Darlene Nelson’s fifth-grade class at Cascade Brook School, where she smiled shyly at the older children and sometimes quietly relayed her answers to their questions through her mother, who then addressed the class.

“I think it’s cool that she wrote a book and she’s nine,” said fifth-grader Abbie Cramer after the presentation.

Classmate Branden Azevedo agreed and said he was surprised by how many times she rewrote the book before it was done.

Her first book centers around Wendy, who is a gymnast, like Lydia, and tries to overcome an injury. The book was self-published by Little Hands Press.  Her mother works as an editor at Five Star Publishing which is not associated with Little Hands Press.  The mother and daughter have been promoting the book heavily in the area with school and library visits along with book signings such as one this Saturday at The Children’s Book Cellar in Waterville.

She told the class that the idea for her book started when she was 7, and she and her mother would drive and practice rhyming words.

“When we drive, me and my mom always play a game. She thinks of a word and I have to rhyme it,” Lydia said.

Schofield said she thought some of her daughter’s rhymes from one of the games were particularly clever, so she wrote them down. A year later, she came across the note and began working with Lydia to draft them into a book, taking notes at her brothers’ basketball games.

Some changes were made through the editing process, Schofield said. Lydia’s original book had used “her” in reference to the doctor whom the main character planned to see, but then the illustrator drew a male doctor. Schofield said they changed the word to “his” because it was easier to change the words than to have a new illustration drawn up.

Schofield told the class that Lydia initially had struggled in reading compared with some of her classmates, and she said it was hard to watch her daughter get frustrated as other students read at faster paces.

“But everyone progresses at different paces and speeds,” Schofield said. Now, she said, Lydia loves to read, and she had her teacher come up with extra spelling words for her to learn after she finished the original ones.

Fifth-grader James Oakes, who had been listening to the mother and daughter, asked them what they thought about writing a book in which a character isn’t sure what he wants to do when he grows up.

“That’s a great idea,” Schofield said. “Maybe that’s the story you have inside of you.”

Kaitlin Schroeder — 861-9252

[email protected]


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