Friday, September 19, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Korematsu teacher celebrates her first book

Maya Greenberg and William Knudsen, fourth-graders at Korematsu Elementary School, look ready for Christmas in their elf hats in class on Tuesday. Their teacher, Nikki Smith, sped up the calendar a bit to celebrate the release of her first book, "The Little Christmas Elf." Sue Cockrell/Enterprise photo

By
From page A1 | September 14, 2011 |

Back when she was an aspiring but unpublished children’s author, Nikki Smith never read any of her manuscripts to her students at Korematsu Elementary School in Davis.

More often, she would test them out on her own two children, and kept her two worlds — writing and teaching — separate.

But a couple of years ago, when she was teaching her fourth-graders the narrative form of writing, she decided to take a chance and use her own work as an example.

” ‘The Little Christmas Elf’ was the first manuscript I ever shared with my class,” she said. “I was so nervous. But when I was done, they all clapped. And this one little girl raised her hand and said, ‘I could see it in my head like a movie.’

“That made me say, ‘This is the one,’ ” Smith recalled.

On Tuesday, Smith got to share that same story with a new class of fourth-graders at Korematsu. But instead of a manuscript, it was a real, fully illustrated book — a Little Golden Book, in fact, released just this week and now available in stores and online.

Smith’s class celebrated the occasion with a “book birthday party,” complete with elf hats, cookie decorating and a signed copy of the book for each student to take home.

It was a long time coming.

Smith has been writing for as long as she can remember, everything from short stories to poetry, picture books to young adult fiction. She’s also been teaching for nearly two decades.

A graduate of UC Davis, Smith earned her teaching credential from Sacramento State University and taught in her hometown of Oakland for several years, as well as in Elk Grove. She currently teaches fourth grade at Korematsu, where she also filled in as principal during Mary Ponce’s maternity leave last year.

In fact, it was during that period that she got the call from Little Golden Books that they wanted to publish “The Little Christmas Elf.”

“That was a crazy time,” she recalled, “but very exciting.”

The fact that her first book was a Christmas book was almost a lark. The year was 2007 and Smith was participating in an online critique group formed through the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Members of the group had collectively decided to write Christmas stories.

“I didn’t think it was my typical type of story,” Smith said, “and I kept putting it off and procrastinating.”

“You know how sometimes people tell you to do something and you don’t want to?” Smith asked her students on Tuesday. “Well that’s what happened.”

In fact, it wasn’t until she was right on top of her deadline that she sat down “and this whole story just poured out,” she said.

“I started with this character — a little elf at a big table — and then, since she was so little, it would be her first year in Santa’s workshop,” Smith explained.

The end result is a lesson on perseverance, a story of a little elf named Nina who was struggling to finish her first toy.

Smith ended up submitting the story to a publisher the following May, and 13 months later, after she’d almost given up on ever hearing back, she got the call from Little Golden Books. A little over a year after that, she celebrated the release of her first book in her classroom at Korematsu.

Smith still writes whenever she can and is working on both picture books and young adult fiction right now. When she has time, anyway.

“I steal time to write,” she said. “I do most of my drafting at night… and do a lot of revising on weekends and holidays.”

“I’m in teaching for the long haul,” she added. “I love it. But I feel like I’m getting better at writing and wish I had a little more time. That’s the hardest part. Sometimes I’ll think, ‘If I had five quiet hours, I could crank out 50 pages.’ ”

Smith will read and sign copies of “The Little Christmas Elf” during the Davis Christmas Tree Lighting Festival on Thursday, Dec. 1, from 4 to 5 p.m. at The Avid Reader, 617 Second St.

She’ll also be at the ScholarShare Children’s Book Festival at Fairytale Town in Sacramento on Saturday, Sept. 24, from 11 to 11:30 a.m.

— Reach Anne Ternus-Bellamy at aternus@davisenterprise.net or (530) 747-8051.

Comments

comments

Anne Ternus-Bellamy

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    Grant means new push for moving tracks out of town

    By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Some say council needs to reconsider MRAP

    By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1

    UC to create $250 million venture capital fund

    By San Francisco Chronicle | From Page: A1

     
    School district may redevelop downtown site

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A1

     
    Master Gardeners share their wisdom at free workshops

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

    Scots vote to stay in UK

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    France strikes Islamic State group’s depot in Iraq

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Man faces arson charge in huge California wildfire

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    DUI suspected in crash

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

    Woodland Healthcare offering flu shots

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Putah Creek Bike Path to close temporarily

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Little Free Libraries open at Montgomery

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A3

    Project Linus seeks donations

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Rabid bat found at Holmes Junior High

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Students invited to apply for Blue & White grants

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Halloween costume sale benefits preschool

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Telling tales, on ‘Davisville’

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Volunteers sought to make veggie bags

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Storyteller will draw on music, dance

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Free workout class set at library

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Explorit: Lots of ways to be a volunteer

    By Lisa Justice | From Page: A4 | Gallery

    Sierra Club remembers longtime walker

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    DHS Classes of 1954 and 1955 will hold 60th reunion

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Nonprofits can get DCN’s help

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Register to vote by Oct. 20

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Davis maps available at Chamber office

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

     
    Need a new best friend?

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5 | Gallery

    Reception benefits endangered gorillas

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

     
    Downtown history tour planned in October

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

    Davis hosts its own climate change rally

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

     
    Sutter Farmers Market offers local goods

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8 | Gallery

    Wolk applauds approval of stronger rules for olive oil

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

     
    Qigong classes available for heart health

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

    .

    Forum

    Sick of being the bad guy

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

    Return to previous plan

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

     
    Save the ‘pine cone place’

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    Affirm our community values

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

     
    Project has safety risks

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    Learn more about Paso Fino

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

     
    Educate homeless with dogs

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

    Cheers and Jeers: Not the end of the rainbow

    By Our View | From Page: A6

     
    .

    Sports

    Aggies’ new energy could be scary for Big West

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

     
    No rest for the weary: Aggie TE Martindale busy on and off the field

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Devils hope the light bulb turns on at Edison

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

     
    River Cats and Giants sign two-year deal

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

    Blue Devil volleyballers hold off Herd

    By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Take Zona and Bama this week

    By Bob Dunning | From Page: B2

    Mustangs are no match for DHS boys in water polo

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2

     
    A’s slide continues as Rangers sweep

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

    .

    Features

    Name Droppers: Awards keep coming for UC Davis retiree

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

     
    .

    Business

    Redesigned 2015 Escalade remains breed all its own

    By Ann M. Job | From Page: B3 | Gallery

     
    .

    Obituaries

    Carol L. Walsh

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    .

    Comics

    Comics: Friday, September 19, 2014

    By Creator | From Page: A10

     
    .

    Real Estate Review

    Featured Listing

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER1

    Professional Services Directory

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER2

    Taylor Morrison

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER3

    Malek Baroody

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER4

    Norcal Land

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER5

    Robin Garland

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER6

    Karen Waggoner

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER7

    Dana Hawkins

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER7

    Martha Bernauer

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER8

    Joe Kaplan

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER8

    Lynne Wegner

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER8

    Remax

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER9

    Melrina A Maggiora

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER10

    Wells Fargo Home Mortgage

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER11

    Julie Leonard

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER11

    Coldwell Banker

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER12

    Kim Eichorn

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER14

    Lyon Real Estate

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER15

    Marcelo Campos

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER16

    Julie Partain

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER16

    Jamie Madison & Associates

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER16

    Kim Merrel Lamb

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER17

    Bob Bockwinkel

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER17

    Juan Ramirez

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER17

    Chris Snow

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER18

    James Hanna

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER18

    Raul Zamora

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER19

    Susan von Geldern

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER19

    Travis Credit Union

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER20

    Jamie Madison

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER21

    Karen Waggoner

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER21

    Tracy Harris

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER22

    Lisa Haass

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER22

    First Street Real Estate

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER24