Last kids on earth

Way back in 1977, I wrote a fan letter to a favorite author of mine asking her when the next book in her series would be out.

An embarrassingly committed bookworm, I’d plowed through all 14 books in the Beany Malone series and I wanted to know when Lenora Mattingly Weber would be coming out with the latest edition.

Her daughter Rosemary sent back a gracious note that let me know Lenora had died suddenly of a heart attack and, unfortunately, there would not be anymore Beany Malone books. As sad as I was to read the news, I also thought it was extremely cool of her daughter to take the time to respond to me, and I’ve kept that letter all these years.

(Unfortunately, I do not have any of the Beany Malone books on hand. I note that some are selling for as high as $920.99. Looks like someone’s going to spend the weekend rooting through her book closet.)

I thought about Beany Malone earlier this week because I received another sweet note from an author I admire, and whose series I am anxious to contine.

Max Brallier, author of the Last Kids on Earth book series, emailed the following response to a message I’d sent:

What a wonderful note!  You’ve made my day (week, month, year!)
I’m so delighted that the stuff I type is connecting and helping.  I’m a lucky writer.
Both of you keep being wonderful, and I’ll try to keep writing.
My best,

While the “try” part of his message has me somewhat concerned, the encouragement part seems familiar. Brallier’s characters — Jack Sullivan, an 11-year old foster kid who is always as brave as he needs to be for his friends; June Del Toro, a budding journalist anxious to connect with her family; Quint Baker, a charmingly nerdy science wiz and Dirk Savage, a jock and a healthfood nut — all thrive on the encouragement they give each other.

The books are fast-paced and witty with sneaky life lessons like “Don’t be too quick to judge a person or monster,” “Friends can be family too,” and “The world wants you to be yourself.”

By reading at least one chapter of the series every night, my 11-year old friend and I cap our day in genuine solidarity and good cheer. We’ve worked our way through all six books in the series, a companion survival guide and we are currently reading “June’s Wild Flight”, an extra edition we’re enjoying immensely.

We’re hoping book seven in the series comes out soon, though we’ve read it might not be until fall.

In the meantime, we’re grateful to another author for taking the time to respond to a couple of enthusiastic fans.

Here’s to authors! And books! And the kids who read them.

I don’t think I have any of the Beany Malone books I’ve read, but I sure wish I did. Turns out they are collector’s items.
We’re thinking we’ll hang on to our Last Kids on Earth books because we’re sure the same thing will happen to them. We’re willing to lend them out, though, if you know anyone who might want to borrow one.
This is the kind letter I received from Lenora Mattingly Weber’s daughter back in 1977.
And this is what I looked like then. I think I looked exactly like a sixth-grader who would write a fan letter to her favorite author, am I right?

8 thoughts on “Last kids on earth

  1. It is funny you write about authors today. I just connected with a Xavier alumna yesterday who published her first book. I ordered it yesterday and can’t wait for it to arrive!

    1. She did do a great job (especially from the viewpoint of a Mom of this generation)! It is actually another alumna and the book is called “Whispering Pines” and it was just released. We have another alumna releasing a book in May as well!

      1. How cool! I’m not sure the age of those authors, but, either way, I think Dennis Oudenhoven must be smiling down on them.

  2. Having my students write letters to authors through the years has always been a highlight of my teaching. We would get some amazing responses and autographed posters and other items we could use in the classroom. Jan Brett was always gracious with items she sent my students. I would have certainly enjoyed having you in my class!

    Always reading,

    1. Sounds like you are an excellent teacher, which is no surprise. I’m sure I would have loved your English class as much as I do your yoga classes.

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