Chapter Three: The Serendipity Journal

Just when Kip thought that she couldn’t like Mrs. Holiday more, Mrs. Holiday proved Kip wrong.

Mrs. Holiday ran her fingers across a small set of chimes that were placed on the corner of her desk. Its lovely sound made Kip think of rain falling gently on trees. Susan, Kip, and the rest of the class looked up as Mrs. Holiday said, “Okay seventh graders. We are going to transition to English class now and we are going to dive into one of my very favorite things to teach–writing!” Mrs. Holiday clapped her hands together and was practically bouncing up and down because she was so excited.

“Our goal for today is to get our journals set up and to start writing. I can’t wait to get to know you through journaling. This is going to be a great adventure!” Mrs. Holiday was giddy as she instructed the class.

“Okay, um, wow again,” Kip thought. Besides reading, she loved to write. To clarify that, she did not love to write things that people told her to write, like the essays she was assigned on boring topics. She loved to write stories and poems and whatever suited her fancy at the time. “I wonder if Mrs. Holiday will give us dumb prompts for our writing or really let us journal?” Kip’s eyes narrowed for a moment as she waited for the next set of directions with a little skepticism.

Mrs. Holiday continued, “First, please get out the picture I asked you to bring with you today. We are going to glue the picture to the front of our journals. There are a few reasons why we are doing this. First, I will be able to get to know you a little bit better by seeing a picture of something you love to do. Also, you will enjoy getting out your journal a little bit more because you get to look at your picture each time you do. Last, it will help you identify your journal when you get yours from the bin. Go ahead and glue your picture on the cover of your journal. You can let me know when you have finished by holding your journal up so I can come take a look at your picture.”

Kip and her classmates glued their pictures onto their notebooks while Mrs. Holiday walked around laughing with students and making comments on their pictures. “She just makes the world a brighter place,” thought Kip.

After Kip finished with her picture, she looked over at the picture Susan was glueing on her notebook. Susan’s curly hair was blowing in the wind and she had a smile as big as the state of Texas on her face as she sat atop a beautiful brown horse. Kip had never ridden a horse but always daydreamed about riding a horse like Susan’s. 

Susan caught Kip looking at her picture and smiled at her, “This is Bess, my first horse. I got her about a year ago. She is the sweetest, most gentle horse you’d ever meet. Would you like to? Meet her, I mean?”

“Yes!” Kip responded, excitedly. “I would love that. I have always wanted to ride a horse one day.” She couldn’t imagine her clumsy self ever looking as comfortable and confident on top of a horse as Susan did, but sometimes you just have to take a chance.

The word chance always makes Kip think of a song called Chances by Five for Fighting that is from one of her family’s favorite movies, The Blind Side. She watched that movie like a billion times with her dad, so much so that she almost has it memorized. Her dad quotes the movie all the time. He loves this line, “I said you could thank me later. Burt, it’s later.” Kip tries not to laugh, but she does, every time he says it.

“So you’ve never ridden a horse? Okay then, we will have to make sure that happens. My dad will help you, he taught me everything I know.” Susan promised.

Before Kip could thank her, Mrs. Holiday got the class’ attention again. “Okay my friends, I see that you all have finished. Before we start writing, let’s talk a little bit about the goals for our journals.”

As Mrs. Holiday wrote a list of three things on the board, Kip watched her with curiosity. She wondered how Mrs. Holiday could be so excited about everything. Kip hadn’t noticed how short she was until she saw Mrs. Holiday reach up on her tippy-toes to write on the whiteboard. Her blonde hair was cut to her chin and it was pin-straight. Although she must be in her twenties, she dressed kind of like a teenager with black leggings, ankle boots, and a longer burgundy top.

Kip read what Mrs. Holiday had written on the board and the Pharrell Williams song Happy started playing through her head louder and louder as she read each bullet point. Journaling back and forth with Mrs. Holiday sounded like a dream come true.

Our journals will be...

“These are our three goals for our journals. We will begin every English class with journal writing, and I will write back to you at least once per week. I would love to write back to you everyday, but Mr. Holiday requires some of my attention throughout the week.” Mrs. Holiday giggled as she said that last sentence. “Don’t tell Mr. Holiday, but I enjoy writing to you much more than cooking dinner.”

“We are going to call our notebooks our Serendipity Journals. I absolutely love the idea of serendipity, of stumbling upon beautiful lessons in the most surprising places. I fell in love with the word when I first watched a movie called Serendipity. I do admit that John Cusack was a big part of the appeal of the movie.” Mrs. Holiday blushed a little before she was interrupted by a boy named Glenn impatiently waving his hand in the air. Glenn was a short boy with a freckled face and short brown hair. He sat two rows over from where Kip was sitting.

“Yes, Glenn? Do you have a question?” Mrs. Holiday asked.

Glenn had a puzzled look on his face, “Who is John Cusack? I never heard of him.”

Mrs. Holiday laughed, “Of course you haven’t! I forget how young you are and how old I am. He is a famous actor who was considered somewhat of a heart-throb in the 1980s and 1990s. You can google him later to see what I mean. Anyway, back to my love for serendipity–the word, not just the movie.”

“The word serendipity is defined as finding something valuable that you weren’t looking for. I take a little liberty with my own definition of serendipity. I define it as looking for the gifts in life in everything you experience, from the greatest joys to the deepest sorrows. All experiences have the opportunity to teach us beautiful lessons if we look for them.” Mrs. Holiday had a dreamy look in her brown eyes. Kip noticed how kind her eyes were, and how they crinkled up and shone bright when she smiled.

Kip’s hope was a real flame now, she started to have a feeling that this move to Jackson just might be…serendipitous. Maybe.

Questions for my editors:

  1. A very important part of the story is introduced in this chapter. What do you think it is? What connections did you make to it?
  2. Readers learn more about Mrs. Holiday in this chapter. What did you learn about her and what connections did you make? What questions do you have about Mrs. Holiday?
  3. What does serendipity mean to you after reading the chapter? What questions do you have about serendipity?
  4. Are there any parts of this chapter that you did not connect with or that seem out of place?
  5. Are there any parts where more detail should be added? If so, which parts and what suggestions do you have?
  6. Did you learn any new words in this chapter? If so, what were the words you learned?
  7. Always let me know if you find grammatical errors.

Please put your edits in the comments on this post. I will comment back to you and make changes to the chapter based upon your feedback. I can’t wait to learn from you!

Behind the scenes info:

This chapter sets up an element of the plot that will take us all the way through the end of the book…The Serendipity Journal. When I was teaching seventh and eighth grade students, I taught a class called Serendipity because I did fall in love with the idea of serendipity after watching that John Cusack movie. In the class we learned ways to take care of ourselves and our own needs without interfering with others taking care of their needs. We learned how to have strong and positive relationships with the people around us. And, we journaled. It was one of my favorite classes because I got to know the hopes, dreams, passions, and struggles of my students in a very special way when we journaled back and forth.

I also enjoy writing back to you way more than cooking dinner! (Don’t tell Mr. Apsey)

81 thoughts on “Chapter Three: The Serendipity Journal”

  1. Gabby from Mrs. Rubin’s fourth grade class:
    I learned that Mrs. Holiday is super nice you can tell because she is making a lot of jokes in class which is making Kip feel good about herself. I can make a connection because most of my teachers and substitutes make a lot of jokes so I like that she makes jokes. My question is how tall is Mrs. Holiday really because I want to know if she is taller than me or not because she is short and i’m a fourth grader and she seems short but I don’t I mean i’m not super tall but pretty tall so I don’t know?
    I have a question will Susan be a back stabber or will she be nice I hope she’s nice? Thank you for taking the time to read my letter and question by Mrs. Apsey I can’t wait until next chapter!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Gabby,
      I love your questions! I am so excited that you are enjoying the book and I am curious to hear what you think of Susan as the rest of the story unfolds. I also love how curious you are about Mrs. Holiday! Keep reading and keep giving me feedback!
      Love,
      Mrs. Apsey

      Like

  2. Willa from Mrs. Rubin’s fourth grade class:

    In my opinion the part about Glenn is confusing because you did not really tell enough about him.
    I learned what serendipitous means it means occurring or discovered in happiness and beneficial way

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Willa,
      Thank you for your feedback about Glenn. I added some details about him and wonder if that helps? Please let me know. I am excited to see that you learned what serendipitous means! It is my favorite word ever!
      Love,
      Mrs. Apsey

      Like

  3. Misty from Mrs. Rubin’s fourth grade class:
    A very important part of the story is introduced in this chapter. What do you think it is? What connections did you make to it?
    I love writing too like Kip

    Readers learn more about Mrs. Holiday in this chapter. What did you learn about her and what connections did you make? What questions do you have about Mrs. Holiday?

    I like serendipity journals too .And I learned that Mrs Holiday likes writing more than cooking.

    What does serendipity mean to you after reading the chapter? What questions do you have about serendipity?

    serendipity means the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Raegan, Drew, Ty, Lance, and Ryan from Mrs. Rubin’s fourth grade class:

    How old is Mrs. Holiday? Why do they not switch classes since they are in seventh grade? We can relate with Kip and how she got teased. We learned that the word serendipity is defined as finding something valuable that you weren’t looking for. Why does Mrs.Holiday and Kip like writing so much? What we learned about Mrs. Holiday is that she likes to write a lot and learn about her students. Why does Kip always play music in her head? We don’t have a serendipity journal. Why didn’t we hear about Cody? Why does she always relate to songs she heard?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Raegan, Drew, Lance, Ryan and Ty,
      Great questions! I added a detail about Mrs. Holiday’s age to the chapter. This chapter does not have Cody in it, but the next chapter does. I will be curious about what you think of Chapter Four. Thank you so much for reading and for giving me feedback!
      Love,
      Mrs. Apsey

      Like

  5. Kayse and Adam from Mrs. Rubin’s fourth grade class:

    I think that the part where Susan shows Kip the picture of her horse was cool because I think that having a horse would be cool they are very fast and I would want to ride on one.

    Will Susan be nice to Kip? Or will she backstab Kip? We want to know!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Kayse and Adam,
      Thank you so much for your feedback about Susan’s horse picture. I also appreciate your curiosity about Susan and whether she will be a good friend. I can’t wait to hear what you think of the upcoming chapters!
      Love,
      Mrs. Apsey

      Like

  6. Kendall from Mrs. Rubinś fourth grade class:
    I learned that Mrs.Holiday is very nice and that she is going to Kip´s best teacher at seventh grade.Is Mrs.Holiday going to be Kip´s worst teacher,or is she going to be mean to Kip.

    Serendipity means stumbling upon beautiful lessons in the most surprising places.How did you start to love the word serendipity,and does serendipity mean to love to?

    Are there any parts of this chapter that you did not connect with or that seem out of place?

    No,because I love the story,and everything in the story.So I don´t think you have anything that seemed out of place,or anything that did not connect to the story.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Kendall,
      I fell in love with the idea of serendipity in the same way Mrs. Holiday did…that part of the story is autobiographical! Thank you for reading the chapters, for giving your feedback, and for loving the story. That is why I am writing it…to inspire YOU!
      Love,
      Mrs. Apsey

      Like

  7. Lauryn from Mrs. Rubinś fourth grade class:

    I learned that Mrs.Holiday is a very nice teacher and she loves writing.She is also super excited and she is very interested in learning about her students through writing in journals.Kip really likes Mrs.Holiday and is probably thinking that she is the best teacher because Mrs.Holiday didn’t start with going over rules like all her other teachers did. Mrs.Holiday is also a fun teacher Kip thinks.

    Serendipity means stumbling upon beautiful lessons in the most surprising places.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Lillian and Julie from Mrs. Rubin’s fourth grade class:
    Happy Halloween Mrs. Apsey!

    We think there is a connection in the story how the chapter had the same name of the title of the story and chapter three’s title is the same. We also hope that Kip will have a good time with Mrs. Holiday because she seems really nice and fun. I think you should add a little more drama to the story because that makes me think the story more interesting to read. We love the book so much that when you get the book done we’ll read it over and over again because it seems like one of the best books EVER!!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Bella, Miah, and Kailey from Mrs. Rubin’s fourth grade class:

    Bella:
    My question is… is Mrs.Holiday going to stay nice or is she going to turn mean? I learned that she is short and I can connect to that because I am short.

    Miah:
    Serendipity means to me something amazing that you see
    and my question is why would it be be the serendipity journal because you might want to write about another topic.

    Kailey:
    I love Serendipity Journal but I would love to learn more about Kip and Cody and I think you should put in the story that Susan takes Kip to the stable and Kip has a very good time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Bella, Miah and Kailey,
      Thank you for your feedback and suggestions! I am so glad you are reading the book! I can’t wait to hear what you think of the upcoming chapters!
      Love,
      Mrs. Apsey

      Like

  10. Payne, Nick, and Dylan Mrs. Rubinś 4th grade class.
    Why did Mrs. Holiday love the word and movie serendipity?

    What are the three goals for the serendipity journal?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Payne, Nick and Dylan,
      Thank you so much for reading the book! Were you able to see the three goals that Mrs. Holiday wrote on the board? That might help answer your question. I hope you love the upcoming chapters!
      Love,
      Mrs. Apsey

      Like

  11. Graham and Greysen from Mrs. Rubin’s fourth grade class
    Our connection with the story was both of us has been bullied before and iit is not fun to have happened to you. It is miserable

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Graham and Greysen,
      I am so sorry to hear that you have been bullied! It is miserable. Maybe you will find hope and ideas on how to deal with bullies through Kip’s experience in this book. Keep reading and keep commenting!
      Love,
      Mrs. Apsey

      Like

  12. I think that you should explain at the end of the book your reason to write this because while I was reading I wondered why you wrote this book and what made you write this fantastic book.Have a good week and a good day.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Hi it’s 4K/F and Mrs Caswell

    This chapter students made many connections between Mrs Holiday and their teachers, the activities they did/do with them, as well as starting the year with writing.

    Students also made text to self connections about either seeing bullying or having been bullied themselves.

    Most of the class thought that the word and concept of serendipity was a very important part of the chapter, They are really eager to find out more about Mrs Holiday’s love of serendipity and what it means. They also picked up on the fact that both you and Mrs Holiday prefer to write than cook Mr Holiday/Apsey dinner…they are starting to think the character of Mrs Holiday might be based on you. 😉 Everyone is also keen to know more about Mrs Holiday – what she looks like, how old she is and her backstory.

    There are some different ideas about what they think serendipity means:
    Ruby thinks it means when you achieve your goals in life; Alexie isn’t sure but thinks it be about trying to make life better; and Lucy thinks it has something to do with beauty.

    Students are also eager to have Cody and Susan reintroduced into the story and what is going to happen next with them and Kip.

    Like

    1. Hello Students of 4K/F and Mrs. Caswell,
      Thank you so much for your feedback! It is so helpful for me to learn about the connections you make to the chapter, what questions you have, and I especially appreciate learning what you think “serendipity” means. Ruby, Alexie, and Lucy, in a way, you all are right. Serendipity actually means “happy accident”. It happens when you are just going about your daily business and you stumble across something great. For instance, if you have been wanting to see a friend you haven’t seen in a while and when you go out to eat that night, she is there in the restaurant. Serendipity!

      For me, serendipity is a way of life. It is going through your days looking for happy accidents and beautiful lessons.

      I hope that helps! Thank you so much for continuing to read and for continuing to give feedback!! You are appreciated!

      Love,
      Mrs. Apsey

      Like

  14. One connection that we made with Mrs. Holiday is that she seems a lot like our science teacher. Also, reading this chapter we realized that serendipity is a key part of everyday life. We also love how Mrs. Holiday describes serendipity.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Nora and Anneke,
      Your comment made my day!! First of all, your science teacher must be awesome. Second, I am so happy that you made that discovery about serendipity!! It is a key part of everyday life!!
      Love,
      Mrs. Apsey

      Like

  15. Hello, I love the book so far but when you are saying what the name is like “Chances” or “Happy”, I believe that you should put quotation marks around them just so they know that thats is a name and not just a word put in the paragraph. From, Jacob Wallace

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I liked the pic of the whiteboard but I noticed that in the 3rd bullet point that it said ” A way for me to share lesson that I have learned that may help you” I was wondering if that should say “A way for me to share lessons that I have learned that may help you?”

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Nice work on your parts of speech! My only suggestion is that you should put its instead of it’s in the sentence “It’s lovely sound made Kip think of rain falling gently on trees.”Other than that,nice work!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Dear Mrs. Apsey,
    This is Chloe from Grand Rapids, MI. I have a suggestion in chapter 9 with tense when it says: ‘The word chance always makes Kip think of a song…’ I think the word should be ‘made’ instead of ‘makes’. My thought is that the sentence would make more sense if it said: ‘The word chance always made Kip think of a song…’ Can’t wait to read the next chapter!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Chloe,
      Great idea!! Thank you for that suggestion! I appreciate your keen eye–do you love to read and write? I am guessing so. I am excited to hear what you think of the next chapter.
      Love,
      Mrs. Apsey

      Like

  19. Dear Mrs. Apsey,
    I think the important part of the story that was introduced into this chapter was the serendipity journal, because the title is based off of the journals in the story. Also, in paragraph 9, I feel like there should be more details about why Kip would be too clumsy to look good on a horse, but that’s just my opinion. I also like the ending to this chapter, can’t wait to read more!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Ervin,
      Thank you for the suggestion to add more details about why Kip would be so clumsy on a horse! I think that is good advice. I am learning how much detail readers like to have. It is important to have lots of details to help paint that picture in your mind.
      Thank you!
      Love,
      Mrs. Apsey

      Like

  20. Dear Mrs. Apsey,
    I’m so glad we learned what Mrs. Holiday looks like and what her appearence is! You are able to make more connections with the character when you know what they look like. One connection I had with Mrs. Holiday is being short. I’m short myself and i know what it feels like to be short. I’m so glad we can have connections with characters. And as always, keep up the great work!
    -Ev

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Ev,
      Thank you so much for the feedback!! I love learning about the amount of detail readers need in order to paint a clear picture in their minds and to make connections with characters. You are a savvy editor!!
      Love,
      Mrs. Apsey

      Like

  21. Dear Mrs. Apsey,
    I so far love this chapter and great job! One thing that I noticed that in paragraph 8, Susan is saying how sweet and gentle her horse Bess is, then she asks if Kip wants to meet her. Susan says,” Would you like to? Meet her, I mean?” I thought instead of that you could say,”Would you like to meet her sometime?” that might improve the flow of the chapter. Otherwise you did an amazing job on the chapter!

    -Tyler

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Tyler,
      Thank you for the suggestion!! You have good thoughts, I love how you think about the flow of the chapters. I was trying to write how someone might speak because we often stumble on our words. But, I appreciate your perspective and I will think that suggestion over.
      Thank you!
      Love,
      Mrs. Apsey

      Like

  22. Hello Mrs. Aspey,
    This is Tess McGrath from Grand Rapids, Michigan. I think I found an error in the 18th paragraph where it says “Glenn had a puzzled look on his face, “Who is John Cusack? I never heard of him.” I was wondering if it would be “Glenn had a puzzled look on his face, “Who is John Cusack? I’ve never heard of him.” where you might want to replace “I” with “I’ve.” Other than that, it is a great story, I can’t wait to read the rest!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Tess,
      Thank you for the feedback, I think your suggestion makes sense. Sometimes when I am writing, I write dialogue how someone might say something even if it isn’t grammatically correct. I am going to take a look at this part with your suggestion in mind.
      I appreciate your feedback!
      Love,
      Mrs. Apsey

      Like

  23. Hi! I really liked this chapter. I think you should put a comma after okay, when Mrs. Holiday says ‘okay students’. I also would like to hear a little more from Susan in this chapter. Maybe how she feels about the journal?
    I enjoyed learning more about Kip’s personality, and her writing style. Great work!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Julia,
      Ooohhh! I like your idea of sharing how Susan feels about the journal. We don’t hear Susan’s thoughts in the book, just Kip’s, but Susan could tell Kip what she thinks. Thank you!
      Love,
      Mrs. Apsey

      Like

  24. Dear Mrs. Apsey,
    I like Kip’s personality of how she always has songs playing in her head when she feels different emotions. It brings out her character. I like the chapter and can’t wait to keep reading!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Alex,
      Great insight!! You picked up on the purpose of including the songs–it is to give more insight into Kip’s personality and her thoughts, and even her family’s personality. Great feedback!
      Love,
      Mrs. Apsey

      Like

  25. I think This chapter was the best one yet, but I still feel like its missing something. Miss Holiday seemed nice but she seemed a little boring. Maybe she could sing or have another activity.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Natalie,
      Thank you so much for the idea to give Mrs. Holiday a bit more character. I am going to take your feedback into consideration as I continue to edit this chapter. Excellent insight!
      Love,
      Mrs. Apsey

      Like

    1. Hello Paige and Abby,
      Thank you for the feedback! There is a chapter that will be dedicated to sharing more about Kip’s family–I think it will be the sixth chapter. I hope that helps the reader understand more about Kip’s family situation, including her dad.
      Thank you for your feedback!
      Love,
      Mrs. Apsey

      Like

  26. I like the new character Susan, it sounds like Susan is friendly. I like that Susan sounds nice and she invites Kip to ride a horse. Susan sounds like a friend that everyone wants. I’m loving it!

    Liked by 2 people

  27. I absolutely loved this chapter of your book. It had so many new yhings about mrs. Holiday
    And so much detail. You decribed her perfectly and i now have a clear picture in my mind of how she looks based on your discription. I also thought it was a neat idea to add a picture of what mrs. Holiday rote on the board. Overall I loved this chapter and can’t wait to reading more.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Hello, with the introduction of the serendipity journal into the main story, maybe we could have some of the students opinions on it, and it could help with knowing some of the other characters more in depth.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. I love this chapter! I as reader would love to learn about Ms. Holiday! She seems like a lot of fun. I would like some background info. from her. Why is she the way she is.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Great Chapter!
    I really enjoyed this chapter but it also kept me curios to know how everyone treats Kip being a new girl.
    Example… Other teachers, classmates, etc…
    Thank you
    One more time Great chapter
    -Ana Pao

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Now on the next chapter!
    Some punctuation you should add is a comma after okay. For example,when Mrs. Holiday utterd “okay students.”It also be kind of nice to hear more about Susan in this chapter,Of her felling and more about her personality. I love Kip’s personality and her style of writting,

    Just another comment,
    Julie

    Like

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