Last week, I had the intense pleasure of visiting eight different elementary schools in five days in beautiful Omaha, Nebraska. And if that wasn’t awesome enough, my spectacular hubby Larry (the Master Sandcastle Builder himself) was able to accompany me!
While the weather was a bit chilly (to put it lightly – brrr!), Larry, Dragon and I could not have had a warmer welcome – from the fantastic staff at the Marriott Courtyard, to the amazing librarians and teachers at each school, to the sea of bright, happy, adorable faces to whom we had the honor of speaking!
The magnificent Maria Wane and her amazing staff are MASTERS at making authors feel uber-welcome! 🙂
Who wouldn’t love to sit in this gorgeous author chair offered by librarian extraordinaire Gail Teten at Western Hills? We want one for our house!
The students really connected to the idea that building a strong story is just like building a sandcastle, “oooing” and “awwwing” over the pictures of Larry’s masterpieces. Some of the children at Belle Ryan Elementary, guided by the fabulous librarian Annette Luedtke, built one of their own to share with us in anticipation of our visit! We couldn’t be more impressed!
Others filled their walls with dragons and sandcastles. Indian Hill’s librarian extraordinaire Deanna Reilly (and her assistants George Mihai) read WHEN A DRAGON MOVES IN to their students, without showing them the pictures, and then asked them to draw their own illustrations as part of a lesson on visualization! Look at the phenomenal results! Take a look – the future of illustration is here and it’s fabulous!
At Benson West, Dragons were moving in everywhere…and taking over the school! We’re thinking fantastic librarian Chris Yearley, the wonderful staff and their uber-talented students may have had something to do with this…
The staff and students of the Omaha Public School District loved seeing Howard McWilliams’ own imaginative ”visualizations” come to life! Here, the children at Sarasota, guided by dynamic librarian Karen Jabens, are spellbound:
Students at Ashland Park/Robbins (led by the splendiferous media specialists Debbie Wolf and Mary Ruf) were determined and discerning detectives when we talked about revision…first fixing the spelling and punctuation errors, and then creating a more exciting sentence about spiders spinning webs to get to an amusement park! Idea for a new picture book???
I explained to the students that authors love to PLAY; that sometimes I’ll pretend I’m one of my characters and wonder what he or she would do to resolve the problem. The young actors of Fullerton (“directed” by the amazing terrific tag-team media specialists Barbara Gent and Melissa Bruce) couldn’t wait to participate! Broadway calls! 🙂
Of course, everyone was enchanted when Dragon himself (made by our uber-talented son, Steven) was introduced!
Everybody tried to guess what he was made of…
…and couldn’t wait to check him out…up close and personal…!
Before they left, I tried to impress upon the students that only THEY can write their own unique stories. Many of them told me that they were already working on projects. I hope they share their art with us! (Hint, hint, teachers…) 😉
The time FLEW and it was time to say goodbye way too soon. Before I left, one young lady asked me: “What’s the best thing about being an author?”
Without hesitation, I answered, “Meeting awesome readers like you.”
And spontaneous hugs. *heart squish*
Tons of thanks, love & hugs to Pam Swanson and everyone involved with the Omaha Public School District for inviting me to visit! I miss you all already! ❤