The students at Yorkville Elementary School in Racine County, Wisconsin, have a distinct advantage over students elsewhere when it comes to imagining the scenes of Plank Road Summer. Their school buses travel down the plank road past the old McEachron and Mather homesteads, climb up over the Rise, and pass the pioneer cemetery on Old Yorkville Road.
When I visited the school recently, the students enjoyed trying to figure out which local landmarks now stand at the places mentioned in the book. For example, the high point of land known as the Rise is now the site of the Modine-Benstead Observatory. The Waites’ Corners schoolhouse once stood among the oaks just south of today’s popular Country Rose Bakery and Cafe.
This week I received a packet from Mrs. Mary Jo North, the Yorkville teacher who coordinated my visit. In the envelope were thank-you notes from representatives of the student body. Here is a portion of one:
You taught us about the writing process and all the research you had to do to write your novels. A lot of us love to read, including myself, and some of us dream about writing our own novels. You helped us see what we’re up against, but that it’s also possible for dreams to come true. . .
. . . You taught us to never give up and keep going when things get rough. Even though you submitted your story for publishing and got refused over 20 times, you and your sister never gave up. Whether we ever attempt to write a novel or not, it will help us in whatever else we do.
Thank you, Kristina, for those beautiful words. Your teachers at Yorkville School should be proud indeed.