June 14, 2017
On Monday, June 12, 21 second graders from room eight at the John D. Philbrick School celebrated the publication of their new book, And Lester Swam On at the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt offices in downtown Boston. Students’ families, tutors, and members of the 826 Boston board attended to get their copies of the new book signed by the authors themselves.
And Lester Swam On follows a leopard shark on his search for a new home as he flees the polluted San Francisco Bay. The students, working in teams, researched marine life, from squids to crabs to whales, and used that knowledge to create the characters Lester meets on his way with the help of 826 Boston. The process culminated in a generously donated visit to the New England Aquarium to see a real, live leopard shark, and in Monday’s party at long-time 826 Boston partner Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Employees at the publisher also pitched in as copy-editors for the students.
During the book release party, students presented what they had learned as a chorale, sharing their oceanographic knowledge alongside a theatrical representation of each animal. Erik Berg, the students’ teacher, gave a speech thanking Boston Public Schools, Philbrick Elementary School Headmaster Genteen Lacet Jean-Michele, and 826 Boston for their collaboration and assistance in making And Lester Swam On a reality.
The book’s publication provided a real, tangible product that the students could feel proud of. “It was a great accomplishment—always for the students, but it also brings together the community as a whole. It was a great celebration within it,” said 826 Boston’s Hannah Lloyd. “And that’s really the point.”
Books can be purchased at 826 Boston’s office at 3035 Washington St. in Roxbury, or through the organization’s online store.