Keys. Journal. Imaginations.

I recently read Wishtree by Katherine Applegate. I loved this story of children creating change in their community through innocent acceptance.

At the heart of story lies a mysterious key. What does it belong to? And, once discovered, what secrets would be revealed from its home?

I was looking for my extra set of car keys the other day, and I came upon these.

23 keys.

They’ve all traveled with us as we moved into our new home six months ago, and yet, not one of them serves a purpose here. Except one, which is to my garage door. I guess I’d better figure out which one that is.

But, where do the rest belong? Their secrets remain with their notched blades, their wards a mystery.

Samar and Stephen, the two young protagonists of Wishtree, discover that their key, bestowed upon them by Bongo, an animated crow, opens a journal which holds a wish from the distant past. Their sleuthing changes the fate of Red, the long-standing neighborhood oak.

The keys now sit on my desk, as I’ve resolved to figure out which portals they fit into, or likely not, before repurposing them. They have found a temporary home next to a journal that is significant to my personal storyline.

It is a journal given to me by my friend Michelle Houts, editor of the Biographies for Young Readers series I’ve written for. My first contribution shares the life journey of Mildred “Millie” Benson, the original ghostwriter of Nancy Drew. The cover and contents of my gift are from The Secret of Red Gate Farm, a Nancy Drew Mystery Story written by Millie. There are lined journal pages in between the text. How cool is that?

I’ve got over a dozen journals, filled with reflections from our family adventures to all 50 states, notes from writing workshops, and musings.

Yet, this one was special, and its purpose needed to be just that.

I’ve determined it is to be my story idea journal. I get inspirations for stories, both imagined and real, daily. My challenge is finding that one, perfect idea, sticking to it, and finishing it.

I’m certain that my fellow Mixed-Up blog contributors are the same. Life presents us with story all the time. And, for those of you teachers and librarians whose days are filled with characters and plots, I encourage you to start writing them down too.

Find that one key that fits somewhere, and explore it. Use it to unlock your imagination and share the journey with children. They need our stories of acceptance, kindness and empathy.

This is my wish and goal for 2018, and it will be discovered in my journal. All I need to do is look, unravel that one unique, shiny, mysterious idea, and then help it find its place in the world.

As for those other keys? This may be their perfect ending.

Julie K. Rubini

Julie K. Rubini is the author of Hidden Ohio, Missing Millie Benson: The Secret Case of the Nancy Drew Ghostwriter and Journalist, and her latest, Virginia Hamilton: America’s Storyteller, which received a Starred review from Kirkus. She is also the Founder of Claire’s Day, Ohio’s largest children’s book festival.

www.julierubini.com and www.clairesday.org


One response to “Keys. Journal. Imaginations.

  1. I love your take on the Wishtree story…and how it sparked your writing juices flowing concerning all the keys that you have. My mother use to keep keys..all keys to anything. She probably had way over 100 on several rings…and could open “anything”…just give her a little time to find just the right one. Our wedding rings were locked in a case…too hours before our wedding…and the key was no way to be found. She got out her key box and started trying each key that was small enough to fit…at number 38 …she found the right one and saved the event. I now have over 100…mine, other people’s, found ones..all on 3 different key rings…all story starters. Thanks for the great idea and good luck on finding the right homes for the rest of your keys!

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