Author Day at Joe Walker Elementary
I had a great time reading my books to the students at Joe Walker Elementary School, in Washington, PA, March 14th. The Kindergarten and First grade were entertained with “A Bunny’s Sojourn” and the true story behind the book. I shared photos of the real live Thistlefloss who lived in my faerie garden for a month, and they were delighted to see the actually stone figures of the faerie, the frog band and the little white haired man. One little girl went so far as to decide she was going to start her own faerie garden. Afterwards, they gave me all kinds of ideas for the bunny’s next adventure!
The Second Grade were exclusive to sharing “Kana and the Missing Koi”. They learned the benefits of writing about things you are familiar with, and how to use a model to draw your main character. This book is a Level 2 I-Can-Read book, but I was pleasantly surprised at the skill level of these students! Some of them were reading Harry Potter books, and a few asked me if I “wrote any books WITHOUT pictures.” Their parents and teachers should be very proud of their progress.
The Third, Fourth and Fifth grades came alive with excitement and engagement as I “steampunked” one of their classmates by dressing them up in a crazy Bowler hat and the special glasses of Hecock, The Last Hour. So many of them were jumping out of their seats yelling “I have to read the rest of this book!!” You see, I only read them the first 10 pages of The Last Hour. Back in their classrooms, the teachers took advantage of their enthusiasm, reading the news articles of 1912, and viewing even more photos of the Niagara Ice Bridge. I can’t express my satisfaction at this feedback! All that work was really worth it! The best part is that it ignited in me a desire to finish the third and final book. The Fifth grade unanimously voted that it should be a full-fledged meaty text with very little illustrations. My intent has always been to morph Book Three into a partial graphic novel/ partial chapter book for more than one reason. First is the practical – it just takes too long to both write AND illustrate such a volume. Second is that I want reluctant readers to slowly gain confidence and a love for the written word. Looks like I need to borrow someone’s A-frame in the mountains for a marathon writer’s get-a-way! I ended the readings with a steampunk challenge: to draw yourself or an invention steam punk style. The drawings are already coming in!
After all the readings, I got to meet the school achievement award winners, a weekly event. The PTO rewarded them with one of my signed books and took our picture. What a great group of kids. But I wanted every child to get something, so all students got book markers, postcards, coloring pages, and themed word games. As a token of my appreciation for being invited to the school I donated a set of my 4 books to the school library.
I topped off the event with a Gift bag full of my books, posters, pins and bookmarks for the school’s PTO to raffle off as a fund raiser. Good Luck and hope you raise plenty of funds for the children!
If your school is interested in an Author’s Visit, please contact me. I have very limited space on my calendar, but will try to accommodate your request. If you are interested in other Authors/Illustrators, you can find many of them on the Pittsburgh Society of Illustrators website or the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustators, Pittsburgh Chapter.