During this summer’s residency in Writing for Children and Young Adults at the Vermont College of Fine Art, I was one of six student lecturers sharing critical insights regarding picture book authorship. My presentation focused on the textual reference to setting, and one of the books I critiqued was Meg Wiviott’s Benno and the Night of the Broken Glass. Unknown to me at the beginning of the residency was that Meg would be attending the residency. We became good friends in the short time during the residency, and I will not forget her response upon the conclusion of the picture book panel lectures.
As Meg approached me after the lecture, I could see she was somewhat teary-eyed. We gave each other a hug of mutual respect, and it was at that moment I realized the impact critical writing can have beyond intellectual curiosity. Meg’s amazement that her book could elicit such fascination and scrutiny and be loaded with so much subtle meaning was a testament to the power of the essay to inspire and connect writers.
The dual emphasis at the Vermont College on both critical and creative writing to foster stronger and more informed writers is one of its many strengths, and that it brought two writers together in a new friendship is a joy that is beyond the words of this writer to express. I share this with her permission and my gratitude.