On Friday I was lucky enough to escort a group of 6th graders down to Santa Barbara for Author-Go-Round. Sponsored by the Santa Barbara County Office of Education, this annual event gives hundreds of students the chance to meet and learn from four different authors.
This year we heard from Bruce Hale (yay!!), Michelle Markel, Joe Cepeda, and Amy Goldman Koss. The event gets it’s strange name because after hearing each of the authors make a presentation to the full assembly, students break into groups based on the color of their name tags. Each author has a booth decorated with a corresponding color. Students start off with the author matching their color. For 12 minutes they can ask questions, discuss books or learn how to draw some of the illustrations. When the circus music plays, everyone moves to the next author booth. It was a fun way to spend time with each author in a smaller group.
The hands-down favorite for my 6th graders was Bruce Hale, and not just because I kept saying how wonderful he was. He impressed everyone with his funny anecdotes, his hilarious voices when reading Snoring Beauty, and his easy-going cameraderie with the kids. He also encouraged them to write down their stories, telling them, “We’re all story people. The world is waiting to hear your story.”
Author/illustrator Joe Cepeda showed examples of where he has painted friends and family into his illustrations. He also taught everyone to draw using simple shapes, telling students to, “Use your artists eye to really look at what you see.” He encouraged them all to keep a journal, not just for writing, but for sketching as well. “Use it as a receptacle for your creativity.”
Amy Goldman Koss revealed herself as a pantser when someone asked if she likes to outline her stories. “If I already know the ending, the thrill would be gone. It’s the best feeling in the world when everything becomes so real.”
My husband was jealous that I got to meet Michelle Markel. He often reads one of her books, Dreamer from the Village (about painter Marc Chagall), when he teaches art classes. Since he couldn’t be there, she was kind enough to sign our copy of the book to him.
The best part of the day, though, was just hanging out with the kids, and listening to their opinions on the books, the authors, and getting to “ditch” school for a fun event like this.
And now, for those of you eager to see if you’ve won a copy of Lois Lowry’s classic, The Giver, I won’t make you wait any longer 🙂
The winner is…