INMAN - What could be in the tall mystery box that sat on stage Wednesday morning in the gym at Inman Elementary School?

Third-grader Brooklyn Black guessed Thing 1 and Thing 2. After all, Dr. Seuss’ birthday is Friday and that will be Read Across America Day. The characters from “The Cat in the Hat” might be hiding in the big box.

“Bunch of M&Ms,” speculated third-grader Kash Schierling.

“Maybe, like books,” said Chloe Schmidt, in sixth grade.

Give that girl a book, she was right.

Kansas-based children’s author Jefferson Knapp talked to the children via Skype and donated hardback copies of books - “My Mommy Burnt the Cookies” by James Thomas Taylor, and illustrated by Briana Ladwig, for the pre-kindergarten through Grade 1 students, and Knapp's “The Traveling Carnival” for Grades 2-6 students - so each of the 235 Inman students could have a book. 

“The Traveling Carnival” is part of Knapp’s “The Kingdom at the End of the Driveway” series, and sixth-grader Kamryn Feltman has read other books in the series and said she likes “how he introduces the characters and make them come to life.”

“We love you,” the children shouted in unison.

“I love you guys, too,” Knapp answered. “You are like the only school that made me cry.”

A now-retired Inman Elementary School librarian, Cheryl Rife, was a big fan of Knapp’s “The Brave Journey,” and the author has visited the school previously.

“You kids are just amazing,” Knapp said, singling out Inman Elementary as his “favorite” among the number of schools he’s visited. Knapp has incorporated references to Inman or Inman characters in books. 

Inman Elementary School Principal Jo McFadden described Knapp's gesture as "a huge donation."

The Inman High School pep band provide the drum roll before the big reveal and then played music as the children danced. Confetti blasted out from the stage and teachers showered more confetti on the children. Enhancing the scene were the colorful garb students and teachers wore in honor of Dr. Seuss’ “Wacky Wednesday.” Among those fully embracing "Wacky Wednesday" were first-grader Loki Turcotte, sporting pink angel wings, and Elijah Boesker, also in first grade and converting his backpack into a hat. McFadden wore a green-and-yellow striped beanie sprouting wobbly pipe-cleaners. Behind sunglasses and beneath a curly wig was second-grade teacher Kelli Regehr.

By 8:25 a.m., the celebration wrapped up. Students stood, recited the Pledge of Allegiance and then headed to their classrooms with a new book in their bookbags.

“I think it’s going to be a great book,” said sixth-grader Lacie Baxter.