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Escalon To England: Aalto Enjoys Journey
New York Times best-selling author Kathryn Aalto takes a moment to pose with nephew Ryan Lewis during her appearance for a pair of assemblies at Dent Elementary School on Wednesday. Marg Jackson/The Times


A love of writing that began when she was a student at Dent Elementary has taken Kathryn Aalto to many places, including the New York Times best-seller list.

“I always loved words, I always loved writing,” said the 1986 Escalon High School graduate, who now lives in England but came back to Escalon recently to share her books and her passion with students.

She appeared in two assemblies at Dent Elementary on Wednesday, Sept. 7 and told students that they, too, are capable of achieving their dreams.

“It started here,” Aalto said of her career. “Mrs. Blixt was my favorite teacher, my love of writing started there.”

She said teacher Blixt had a basket on her desk and students were encouraged to choose an item from that basket and do some descriptive writing about it.

“I was nine years old and I wondered ‘can I make a job writing pretty words?’,” Aalto told students.

As it turns out, she could.

It was a combined love of writing, nature and history that paved the way for Aalto’s best-seller. Living in England, she wondered if there really was a ‘Hundred-Acre Wood’ such as that portrayed in the A.A. Milne classic Winnie-the-Pooh. She found that wood and her book takes readers on a walk through the real-life, yet somewhat enchanted forest.

Also a landscape designer, Aalto has carved out a career doing the things she loves most.

“Life as a writer, some days it’s really hard work,” she admitted. “From 4:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. is the best writing time for me.”

She also said the book took her about two-and-a-half years to complete, start to finish, and is about 60,000 words.

Her young audience had the chance to ask some questions, ranging from her favorite part of the Pooh stories to what life is like in England.

She said when she and her family moved to England about 10 years ago, they started to do a lot of walking.

“We have a legal right to roam,” she said of the country, and she used that to her advantage while researching her Hundred Acre Wood book.

The title of the book is "The Natural World of Winnie-The-Pooh."

She has written another book, and has two more in the works, and also teaches at a university.

“It’s a book about the landscape, not Pooh,” she explained of her best-seller.

She also believes it is nostalgia that has helped put her book atop the NY Times list.

“It is quintessential childhood,” she said.