Laura A. Woollett is the author of the middle-grade book Big Top Burning: The True Story of an Arsonist, a Missing Girl, and The Greatest Show On Earth, a nonfiction account of the 1944 Hartford circus fire, published by Chicago Review Press. She is also a contributor to The Great Connecticut Caper, an online, serialized mystery for kids. Laura has a Master’s degree in Children’s Literature from Simmons College and is a full-time writer and editor of literacy curriculum for children in kindergarten through grade 12. Originally from South Windsor, Connecticut, Laura now lives in Massachusetts with her husband, daughter, and two cats.
Hello, inquisitive readers!
Every story begins with a question: How did Harry Potter become “the one who lived”? What is inside the Secret Garden? Who will win The Hunger Games? I love to ask questions and try to discover the answers. That’s one of the reasons I became interested in the Hartford circus fire, the subject of my first book for young readers, Big Top Burning: The True Story of an Arsonist, a Missing Girl, and The Greatest Show On Earth. I wanted to know more about the disaster. How did it happen? Who was the little girl who died in the fire? Why didn’t anyone know who she was?
To answer the questions, I did a lot of research, especially in the state archives in Connecticut. My research led to more questions, so I researched those, too. And then I had other people read the book and THEY had questions. So I went back to the archives and looked for the answers. I have learned so much about the circus fire, but you know what? I STILL have questions!
If you read my book (and I hope you do!), you can look at the evidence and try to solve the mysteries of the Hartford circus fire, too. Then send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org). I’d love to hear what you think!
The Great Connecticut Caper, my other project, is definitely a lighter story! It’s a mystery that I wrote along with 11 other authors and 12 illustrators. There’s a question here, too. A giant castle disappears from the banks of the Connecticut River—and no one knows who did it or how! It’s up to two kids to solve the mystery.
You can read this story free online! http://ctcaper.cthumanities.org/get-ready/
One thing I really like about writing for kids is that they are never afraid of asking questions. Adults sometimes worry about looking silly or being wrong. Isn’t that crazy? I hope you ask lots of questions, whether you’re in school or at home, playing sports or performing in plays, even while you’re standing in line at the grocery store! Ask questions and read, read, read. There’s so much in this world to know!