In pictures and words, I explore the concept of imagination with children. I begin with an interactive drawing and storytelling session which aims to stimulate both writing and art skills. Next, I present a slideshow and discuss some of the connections between childhood play and creative work, emphasizing how a childhood passion can become a career in adulthood. I talk about where ideas come from, how I research my books, and how mistakes and mess-ups can, with love and perseverance, become finished work. The process of making a picture book is also detailed, illuminated by original collages from my books, book dummies (practice books), and publishers' proofs. The presentation also focuses on the "miniature worlds" in my picture books, be they purely imaginary places or real cities. My aim is to encourage children to think up their own characters, settings, and stories -- the basics of fiction!
I need a long table, a microphone (clip-on is best), and an easel with a drawing pad. Since I show slides, I need to present in a room which can be darkened. A screen or blank wall is also necessary, and a projector is helpful, though I can bring my own if need be.
Collage and book-making workshops:
I also give workshops in which I break down the basics of drawing and storymaking and enable students, from kindergarteners to adults, to create memorable stories and characters of their own. Students use mixed media with an emphasis on collage to create their own picture book worlds.
Some schools which I've visited in the past few years:
Amador School, Dublin, CA; Ecole Bilingue, Berkeley, CA; Escuela Bilingue Interncional, Berkeley, CA;
Sacred Heart School, Atherton, CA; Keys School, Palo Alto, CA; Nueva School, Hillsborough, CA;
Del Ray School, Orinda, CA, The Berkeley School, Berkeley, CA; Clairbourn School, Pasadena, CA; Chandler School, Pasadena, CA; Redwood Day, Oakland, CA; Rancho School, Noavato, CA; Hillside School, Oakland, CA; Beacon Day School, Oakland, CA ; D.H.White School, Rio Vista, CA; Bacich School, Ross, CA; Sunrise School, Bullhead City, AZ; Antelope Creek School, Rocklin, CA; John Muir School, Berkeley, CA; Curtis School, Los Angeles, CA,; Birch Lane School, Davis, CA; Magic Years School, Reseda, CA; San Anselmo Montessori School, San Anselmo, CA; Jefferson School, San Francisco; Dianne Feinstein School, San Francisco; Country Club School, San Ramon, CA; U.C. Berkeley Early Childhood Education School.
"It was a perfect presentation for schoolchildren in terms of inspiration and information. The slides were a wonderful glimpse into an artist's mind." -- Wendy Westsmith, Creekside School, Georgetown, CA.
"Thank you for the captivating Author Day presentations you gave. You did a marvelous job of describing the different phases involved in writing and illustrating books while always keeping the children interested." --Sandra Brandon, John Gomes School, Fremont, CA.
"Your visit was fantastic for our students. We are all very happy with how Literature Day went and how engaged the students were in every aspect. The teachers, parents and students continue to approach me to specifically comment on their delight at your visit and the things they are hearing at home from children." -- Claire Harrison, Vallemar School, Pacifica,CA.
"I have received wonderful comments from teachers, students and parents about how much they enjoyed your presentations. The students love your books and drawings...Your ability to tailor your talks to the age of the students in the room was wonderful and made the day all the more meaningful." -- Kathleen Frey, Rancho School, Novato, CA.
"The need for your message is so great these days. I admire your courage, tenacity and extraordinary skill in conveying these important themes to our youth in such engaging
and compelling ways." -- Marie Crouch, The Hamlin School, San Francisco, CA
"It was my pleasure having the chance to meet you and see the wonderful interaction between you and our students. Thank you for bringing your creativity, inspiration and beautiful energy into our community." -- Jessica Leanio, Upper School Executive Assistant, The Nueva School, San Mateo, CA
Sharing how a book is made, from rough ideas and sketches to publishers' proofs, to original art
Bright ideas from Hillcrest School, San Francisco
Dazzling book displays by librarian Emmie Stuart of Percy Priest Elementary, Nashville, TN