Elaine Forrestal

Letters from Readers of Someone Like Me

As I was preparing to celebrate Someone Like Me being continuously in print for 21 years with Penguin Books Australia (now Penguin Random House) I got out my Scrap Book file and started to re-read some of the letters that kids, and sometimes parents and teachers, have written to me. They are, of course, fascinating!

From quaint handwritten and illustrated ones to the more recent emails, some just a few lines long, others a page and a half, they are all precious. Some are barely legible, written in pencil with invented spelling or emailed in texting language, but I have made it a firm policy to reply to each one individually within 24 hours – if humanly possible. I value this interaction with readers. They so often have interesting things to say and sometimes give me ideas for future stories. Some of those letters have become the starting point for friendships  or mentorships that have lasted for months, even years. In one case a teacher from Victoria, who had been reading Someone Like Me to his classes each year for several years, was coming to Perth for a brief visit. He arranged to meet with me over coffee, and brought with him several copies of the book to be signed for himself and the school. He had also had requests from his students to bring back photographs, just to prove that he had actually met me and wasn’t pulling their legs.

I treasure these letters and bundles of them are now held in my personal archives at the Battye Library, where anyone can read them. But it wasn’t until last week that I became aware of just how many lives this book has touched in the last 21 years. Fingers crossed that it will continue to do so for many years to come.