I’m very grateful to have received this photo! For an author, there is no higher compliment than to see a child react so purely and joyfully to something we created. In the life cycle of a story, we begin with this same unbridled enthusiasm. Let’s call this the honeymoon phase. As we work harder and revise, we find flaws. Make the stories better. Send it out into the world. Rejections are part of the package. We keep working. Move on. Still, we believe in the story. That’s why we keep at it. A publisher wants to make that story into a book? Yahoo! It’ll be in the hands of children? Double-yahoo! The thrill of getting a yes from a publisher is one thing. The thrill of seeing a child sporting a crinkled-nose smile? Priceless.

Thank you, sweet child. And thank you to her grandmother for sharing this photo with me. It will surely keep me—and I hope others—going, during this unsettling time. (And, for me, personally—always.)