Saturday, June 02, 2007

Feelin' like a rock star

Enjoyed a fabulous visit to my local elementary school yesterday. What a great group of enthusiastic kids! So much for the old saying about a prophet not being accepted in his own land. (Or however that saying goes!) My hometown kids at Hardy Elementary treated me like a rock star. Because they're so nearby, I had stopped in to meet the lovely librarian some weeks ago to give her an advance CD of my song, "The Storytime Boogie." By the time my visit rolled around, the kids were familiar with the song. (A big thanks to my friend Mrs. Chapman, the music teacher, for taking the time to introduce the kids to the song.)

What a great audience! (Both groups, K & 1st and 2nd & 3rd.) The younger ones worked themselves into a cheering frenzy as I pulled stuffed "pets" from my big bag -- culminating in that huge crocodile I found in a 2nd hand store a few weeks ago. The older kids were equally entertained by my photos of my Evil Inner Editor. But they never got out of control. They'd quickly quiet with a simple "shhh" into the microphone so I could bring up the next image. You couldn't ask for a better audience!

Both groups laughed in all the right places when I read Jack of All Tails especially at David Clark's illustrations. It's important for kids to understand how much of the story is being told by the illustrator. I tell students that the illustrations do more than depict the actions described by my words. As we read, I point out humorous details in David's art that don't even show up in my text. Sometimes we guess what's going to happen next in an illustration, such as when the mom -- dressed as a cat and lying on top of a piano -- is mischievously eyeing a child's chewing gum bubble. When my sons were little, we'd see if they could name other books illustrated by that artist just by looking at the covers of our library books. It's amazing how often they could. I really admire a strong signature style like that.

I don't usually give out postcards to the entire student body, but I happened to have a batch of 1000 "free" postcards because my printer messed up my order a few weeks ago. The full-color front showing the bookcover looked fine, but the back side was unacceptably light. So they reprinted and shipped new ones, leaving me with a box of 1000 extras. So I put stickers on the back announcing my booklaunch party for any kid who can talk his/her parents into bringing them. (This, since the book isn't being released for another two weeks, so I couldn't sell them during the visit.)

I closed with "The Storytime Boogie" at both presentations as kids clapped along. Hey! Hardy Elementary has rhythm, too! All in all, a very fun afternoon.

(Jack of All Tails published by Dutton Children's Books - Illustrations copyright ©2007 by David Clark)

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