A Bristol schoolgirl who drew a comic strip about her favourite book was stunned after receiving a surprise letter – from its author.
Ella Rehin, who lives in Montpelier, sketched a biography of the bestselling novelist Mark Haddon for an English project.
Her teacher was so impressed with the artwork that she sent Haddon, best-known for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, a copy.
But Ella, 15, was “gobsmacked” when Haddon – whose books have sold two million copies worldwide – responded.
He said Ella’s comic strip, which contains 12 individual colour pictures, including one of Haddon with his wife and children, was “brilliantly drawn and very funny”.
It was, he said, “by some margin one of the best letters I have ever received”.
Haddon, who has two sons, Zack and Alfie, was also a good sport about the size of his comic book nose, adding: “Zack, nine, was troubled by the size of my nose but very taken with his younger self sitting on the sofa”.
The A4 artwork is now hanging on his dressing room wall at the Gielgud Theatre in London’s West End, where a stage adaptation of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time opened on June 24.
Ella, who attends Bristol Steiner School, said: “We were asked to write or draw a biography of our favourite author, and I chose Mark Haddon because I absolutely loved The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time.
“I knew that my teacher had sent it to Mr Haddon, but I was still gobsmacked when he replied. Thankfully he really liked it, too!”
Ella’s teacher Jo Taylor said the letter was received in January but kept under-wraps until the English project finished last week.
“It really was very kind of Mr Haddon to take the time out of his incredibly busy schedule to respond, and both Ella, her fellow pupils, and the teaching staff at Bristol Steiner School are very grateful to him for doing so,” she said.
Ella is now considering a university degree in illustration. She also hopes to enter next year’s Vintage Graphic Short Story Prize – on Haddon’s recommendation.
“Mr Haddon may never know this, but his letter may change my future forever,” she said.