Author Tonya Chen Mezrich visited Northwestern State University’s Elementary Lab School this week to discuss the writing process and autograph copies of the Charlie Numbers books students are currently reading. Dr. Mezrich and her husband Ben have cowritten four books in the series that focus on the adventures of a group of whiz kids who solve mysteries using math and science.
Mezrich attended NSU Elementary Lab and Middle Lab as a youngster when her father was a political science professor at NSU. She graduated from high school at Choate Rosemary Hall, studied French literature and art history at Tufts University and earned a Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry at Tufts School of Dental Medicine. After practicing as a dentist, she later became a jewelry and fashion designer and produced and cohosted the TV Show Style Boston. She recently launched the popular half hour TV show on NESN called Boston’s Red Carpet with Tonya Mezrich featuring philanthropy and fashion as a follow up to her role as resident fashion expert at NBC Boston.
Mezrich based the Charlie Numbers series on her experience at NSU Middle Lab and the school’s teachers and science lab. She wanted to look in on the school while visiting her parents who still live in Natchitoches and cited Melanie McCain as her Gifted/Talented teacher. The visit to the Elementary Lab was arranged by Principal Caron Coleman and a copy of her book was purchased for all second through fifth grade students. Mezrich said she was impressed with the reading levels of the Lab School students and their proficiency with chapter books.
Mezrich and her husband Ben, also a successful writer, wrote the first Charlie Numbers book in 2017 and it was chosen as the required summer reading for all sixth graders in Boston Public Schools. The Charlie Numbers books are slated to be developed into a movie series with Ellen Pompeo of Gray’s Anatomy. The Mezrichs recently completed “Charlie Numbers and the UFO Bash” set for release this year. The couple live in Vermont with their two kids and pug.
Elementary Lab students incorporated the Charlie Numbers story into their school library garden where each class uses elements of a grade-appropriate book in their gardening project.
Mezrich talked with second through fifth graders about the books, the challenges of writing and the benefits of the school’s book club where students discuss what they are reading. She credited her husband Ben as her personal mentor in writing. Ben Mezrich is author of 17 books, including two New York Times bestsellers “The Accidental Billionaires” and “Bringing Down the House,” that were adapted into films.
E Lab students responded positively to Mezrich and asked good questions about writing and what projects she has in the works.
“I do believe it gave them inspiration and thinking ahead to what they could do with writing and education,” said Lisa Wiggins, E Lab librarian. “She put such a positive spin on the importance of education, reading, writing, science and math.”
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