I have received more than 900 letters from students around the world concerning my books, presentations and workshops. These are a few examples of what educators, students and librarians have to say:
Wow, that is a wonderful presentation of your fantastic book and such a credit. Myself and Jimmy have really enjoyed reading your book and now watching the video. Mary Elton School were very grateful when they received your book and are planning to link it in with their education programme relating to their partner school in Tanzania. I hope they’ll be in touch soon. Please see attached some pictures of Jimmy with little sister Megan reading your book. He has thoroughly enjoyed reading it (many times) and has asked so many questions about the life of Muhammad. We’ve compared and contrasted our life with his and seen how, although very different lifestyle, we are all very similar in our values. Thank you so much for enlightening our lives with your wonderful book.
Jimmy came out of school very excited today. He’d been asked to stand up in assembly by the head teacher and thanked for the book. The head explained to the school how Mary Elton had been given it by you and that the school had now adopted the book. They are planning on reading it to the whole school during assemblies over the coming weeks. Jimmy was very proud to stand up and thank you once again for the book. I’m sure the school will be in touch soon.
Thank you so much for writing. I did not check to see if the order went through, and then I got the flu and dropped everything for a while. This evening I will enlist the help of my husband (as I’m technology-challenged) and we will try again.
I would be thrilled to have you inscribe the book! If it’s not too long, would you please write something akin to, “For the Gene Witt Elementary Orffestra and their Director, Marsha Perry Juday”?
An explanation: I teach music in Manatee County, FL. Our Orff Ensemble learned to play a piece called “Desert Walk,” that has a lilting, rather haunting theme in e minor. I will tell you, in case you are not familiar with Orff music, that the piece is scored for various sizes of xylophones, glockenspiels, drum and recorders. I have also arranged a B section with unpitched percussion instruments. When we performed it at our All-County Festival, we played it in ABA form.
Now, I’d love to expand the piece for our school Spring Concert. Orff often incorporates literature, movement and visual art with the music. So last month I began to search for a picture storybook about the desert. I couldn’t find anything— there were several involving deserts in the US. They would not work, as the music has Middle Eastern overtones. I also would like to broaden my students’ cultural horizons.
Then I remembered a book that my daughter (now aged 31) and I checked out of the library and read over and over, back when she was six or seven. I didn’t recall the title or your name, but the story and illustrations remained clearly imprinted on my brain. Back then, I was so drawn in by the story that I researched the Tuareg people and did quite a bit of reading. Back to present day: using just a few key words, I found your book and your website!
My plan is to have a student read excerpts from your book, with at least one student acting out the story. At appropriate times, the Orffestra would add their music. I would also like to display a couple of pages from the book on our large screen. The Concert is held at our school, and we do not charge admission. Of course, parents will have their cameras out to record their little darlings, but it would not be broadcasted anywhere.
Thank you so much for your work. It is proof that one person can make our world a better place, and leave a legacy of acceptance, understanding and connection that conquers and surpasses our differences.”
Marsha Perry Juday
“As a person who grew up and lived in Africa for thirty years, and who has a deep love for the nature, beauty and sounds of Africa, I was greatly moved by Cristina Kessler’s novel Our Secret, Siri Aang. From the first chapter it was clear to me that Ms. Kessler had spent a great deal of time in Africa. She managed to capture the feel and sounds of the bush, the heat and the dust, the dangers and the beauty, as well as the culture and challenges of tradition vs. ‘progress’ in the pages of her beautifully written novel.
Ms. Kessler’s presentation on her novels was equally outstanding. She captured the attention and imagination of all our students with her wonderful pictures and personal stories. She brought the many faces of Africa to the fore and engaged the students with her tales and pictures that spanned from Swaziland in the south, to multiple countries and cultures in the north. I thank her for her work and for speaking up for the rich cultures and people of Africa.”
Language Arts Teacher
“Although Ms. Kessler’s books are targeted for children, her stories are applicable to any age group. Her readings are animated with personal stories and experiences of her many years in Africa. She is a delight to hear.”
Veronika J., Ed.D.
Curator of Education and Intern Coordinator
National Museum of African Art
“Abdul has bloomed since we read One Night. He taught the class how to say the Arabic words. He’s come out of his shell because classmates are interested in him and his background for the first time. Thanks so much for the visit.”
“Thanks so much for your participation in the Community School District 27 television program entitled “Meet the Author”. Thanks to your efforts the recording session was a great success and the program will be the highlight of our television broadcast season. It was a pleasure for all our students to share this experience with you as they gained so much from meeting you and participating in this special event.”
Director of Media and Telecommunications
“We have seen many different authors over the years, but Cristina’s visit was special. Students and teachers alike found her informative compelling style, along with her incredible life’s journey especially intriguing. One teacher commented over a year later, “The best author to ever visit was Cristina Kessler. She had an enlightening and stimulating presentation that everyone could understand. She also explained, in order to write a book, it will not be perfect on the first draft, or even the second. What a valuable lesson to teach students!”
Ms. Gaylen H.
Home and School Club President
Morgan Hill, CA
“Having known Cristina for ten years I can attest to the fact that she is the most caring, enthusiastic, interesting and knowledgeable authoress. Her stories and photographs keep the children and adults enthralled. We look forward to her books and too infrequent visits.”
Ms. Libby H.
Youth Services Department Head
Lynbrook Public Library
“I am very proud of you that you made a book about Arab people. I love your books and stories.”
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
“I really loved you. You were an inspiration!”
“I loved having lunch with you. You’d better watch out because now I am going to be an author – as good as you!”
“The writer’s workshop was very good and enjoyable. Somehow your teaching changes me a lot. I admire you from the bottom of my heart and hope to one day be a good journalist.”
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia