Visit from Flat Stanley

This month it was my distinct honor to welcome Flat Stanley to Austin, Texas. For anyone not aware, Flat Stanley is the poor boy who was flattened by a bulletin board. At first his parents were rather bummed, but then they realized having a flat son had its perks. For one thing, they no longer had to buy him airline tickets–they could just mail him wherever he wanted to go.

My seven-year-old niece Sarah mailed Flat Stanley to me from Kentucky a few weeks ago with a letter warning me to show Flat Stanley a really good time. At the end of his visit, Flat Stanley wrote back to Sarah explaining how he hiked mountains and rubbed elbows with Austin’s literati:

From the Desk of Flat Stanley

Hi Sarah,

Thank you so much for sending me to Austin, Texas! To tell you the truth, I was afraid it might be super boring, but as it turned out, I had an amazing time.

Flat Stanley reaches the top of Mount Bonnell in Austin, Texas!
Flat Stanley reaches the top of Mount Bonnell in Austin, Texas!

Your aunt, uncle, and five-year-old cousin took me on a hike at a place called Mount Bonnell. Your little cousin said, “Don’t worry, Flat Stanley. It’s only 106 steps to the top of the mountain. And from there you can get a great view of the city.”

Easy for him to say! He’s more than three feet tall. It took me 10,806 steps to get up to the top. I was huffing and puffing up a storm. But I did it! Everyone was proud of me. Your cousin said, “You did a great job!”

When I looked out across the Colorado River, the view was gorgeous. Plus, at the precipice, there was a little park. “Hey, this is cool,” I told your cousin. “But watch out for the cactuses.”

“You don’t say cactuses, Flat Stanley. The plural of cactus is cacti!” he said. As you can see, that kid’s pretty smart.

The one thing that little cousin of yours forgot to tell me was not to sit on one of those things. Ouch!

Well, after we came down from the mountain, I tended to my wounds. I was all sweaty so I took a shower and got dressed. Then it was time for a night out with Aunt Shana and her writer friends, the Delacorte Dames and Dudes. They all write books for teenagers.

Delacorte Dames and Dudes gather to welcome Flat Stanley to Austin.
From left to right, April Lurie, Shana Burg, Jenny Ziegler,
and Varian Johnson. Not pictured, Dame Margo Rabb.

We ate dinner together, while they droned on about their websites and blogs and trips to visit students in schools. It was pretty boring, but then April said, “Hey, Flat Stanley, have you ever thought about writing a book?”

That certainly perked me up! “How did you know?” I said. I think I blushed a little bit. “I have the whole story planned out in my mind.”

“I could just tell,” April said. “You know, Flat Stanley, if you want to be a writer, you better read a lot.”

“Really?” I said. “That’s sort of a problem, because I’ve got to travel all over the world. I don’t get a lot of time to read.”

“Oh, yeah, April’s right,” Aunt Shana said. “Reading is the most important thing a writer can do! But don’t worry, Flat Stanley, while you’re here in Austin, I’ll take you to a party to celebrate the release of a new book.”

“Cool!” I said. And it was cool. Super cool!

The next day we went to the bookstore where the author, Liz Garton Scanlon, read us her new book called All the World. At first I thought, “I can already read chapter books. I don’t read picture books anymore.” But then I heard Liz read the story and I was sucked right in!

Liz Garton Scanlon at her release party with Flat Stanley.

Liz Garton Scanlon at her release party with Flat Stanley.explained to me that this is actually a book for people of all ages, including adults.

“The author is a poet,” Aunt Shana said. “That means she tries to discuss very complicated ideas with very few words. That’s why the book is short with pictures.”

“Ohhhh!” I said. And after I read the book myself, I knew what Aunt Shana meant. There was a whole lot to think about in those pages, especially for a guy like me who travels around the entire world.

At the end of the party, I stood in a really, really long line to get one of Liz’s books signed for you and me. I hope you like it!

Thanks again for sending me on such a life-changing trip.


Flat Stanley

Posted in Shana's Posts, Writing on 10/04/2009 04:53 pm


  1. That was one of the funniest, cutest books I’ve ever signed!

    • Sarah and her whole class LOVE All the World! My son’s teacher also read it to the class and told me, “It’s such a beautiful book!”

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