Friday, April 17, 2015
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Back when she was an aspiring but unpublished children’s author, Nikki Smith never read any of her manuscripts to her students at Korematsu Elementary School in Davis.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 [email protected] or (530) 747-8051.

Comments

comments

Anne Ternus-Bellamy

.

News

Psychedelic rock posters recall 1960s concerts

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
UCD study: Crickets not enough to feed the world just yet

By Kathy Keatley Garvey | From Page: A1

It’ll be a perfect day for a picnic — and lots more

By Tanya Perez | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Turning a mess into olive oil success

By Dave Jones | From Page: A1 | Gallery

UCD expands emergency notification service

By Julia Ann Easley | From Page: A2

 
California vaccine bill stalls; will come back next week

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Cities: California water reduction order unrealistic, unfair

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Bob Dunning: Chasing criminals and water-wasters

By Bob Dunning | From Page: A2

Enjoy a chemistry bang on Picnic Day

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Start your Picnic Day with pancakes

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Local students to perform at fundraising concert

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
CA House hosts crepe breakfast

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Doxie Derby crowns the winning wiener

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Fundraiser benefits Ugandan women

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

See pups at Picnic Day

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
Davis poet will read his work at library

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Free blood pressure screenings offered

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4Comments are off for this post

 
Rotary Club hosts whisky tasting

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Ribs and Rotary benefits local charities

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Dodd plans fundraising barbecue in Davis

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Soroptimists set date for golf tourney

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Socks collected for homeless veterans

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Council will present environmental awards Tuesday

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

 
Invention and upcycling to be honored at Square Tomatoes Fair

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

 
Take a peek at Putah Creek on daylong tour

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5 | Gallery

Pence Gallery Garden Tour tickets on sale

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

 
Davis authors featured at writing conference in Stockton

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

Sign up soon for Davis history tour

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6 | Gallery

 
Campus firearms bill passes Senate committee

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

Emerson featured at photography program

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

 
Portuguese influence in Yolo County detailed

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

 
UC Davis Circle K Club wins awards at district convention

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

Concert and dance party celebrate KDRT’s 10 years on the air

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7 | Gallery

 
Survival skills to be taught at preserve

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9

.

Forum

The new one puts her foot down

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

 
Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A8

It’s time to fight for California’s jobs

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

 
Future leaders give back

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

 
Know where your gift is going

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

Pipeline veto a good move

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

 
Artists offer heartfelt thanks

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

.

Sports

Aggie women ready to host (win?) Big West golf tourney

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

 
New strength coach hopes to stem UCD football injury tide

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Herd has too much for Devil softballers

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

 
Les, AD Gould talk about the Aggie coach’s future

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

DHS boys drop another Delta League match

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
UCD roundup: Quintet of Aggie gymnasts honored for academics

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
River Cats fall to Las Vegas

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B12

 
Diamondbacks defeat Giants in 12 innings

By The Associated Press | From Page: B12 | Gallery

.

Features

 
Many summer enrichment opportunities available for students

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: B5

What’s happening

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: B5

 
DSF kicks off 10th anniversary celebration at the carousel

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: B5

.

Arts

‘True Story:’ In their dreams

By Derrick Bang | From Page: A10 | Gallery

 
‘Once’ an unforgetable celebration of music, relationships

By Bev Sykes | From Page: A11 | Gallery

 
.

Business

Honda shows off new Civic at New York show

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
.

Obituaries

Robert Leigh Cordrey

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Ruth Rodenbeck Stumpf

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Comics: Friday, April 17, 2015

By Creator | From Page: B10