Tag Archives: librarian

Author/illustrator school visit tips from your old Uncle John

I got an e-mail from an author/illustrator colleague who is about to do her first school visit—she asked for some tips about how to make it a success. Here are a few ideas that came to mind.

First of all, don’t be nervous. The students are going to treat you like a rock star. You’ll be new and different and fun. They’ll love you.

Dress like you’re going on an interview.

Have you read the story aloud yet? Rehearse before you go in front of the students. Read it to a friend or two this weekend, just so you can get comfortable with doing that. BE AN ACTOR—be sure every character sounds different from the others. Don’t be afraid to go over the top with the voices. I’m a ham, and wear some kind of hat that fits with the story—a cowboy hat, or bunny ears—because the narrator is also a character. Relax, don’t rush through your reading, and enjoy the experience.

Ask for water. Ask for a microphone if you’re speaking to an assembly. If it’s just 25 or so kids, no mic.

Know how much time you’re allotted and keep an eye on the clock.

I have a few of my books in jpeg format. The school should have a computer and projector—ask for it ahead of time, along with a tech person. You bring your jpeg file on a flash drive. Bring at least one backup on a different flash drive. You can project your images while you read the story.

If you feel comfortable doing it, draw the kids a picture afterward. An easel with a big pad and a chisel-point marker is all you need. Keep it simple. Draw something you’re good at drawing—a cat or a dog. Describe what you’re drawing as you draw it as if you were doing a presentation on the radio.

If you do Q&A, keep the answers simple. Preface your answers with things like, “That’s a really good question.”

When the show’s over, thank everyone and turn the class back over to the teacher.

Hoist your flagons!

l_9781585368150_fc

Heave on your futtock-shrouds and don’t leave your swashes unbuckled! ‘Tis International Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Don’t forget: If you are anywhere near Latrobe, Pennsylvania, shape a course for The Art Center (819 Ligonier Street) where I’ll talk about illustrating pirates this evening from 6:30 – 8:30. If you miss it, I’ll be at The Art Center again tomorrow morning 10:00 – 11:00ish (we need to clear the decks before noon—when some poor lubber’s wedding takes place).

MoviePirates

As promised, here are the answers to yesterday’s M is for Movie Pirates Quiz:

First row: Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Carribean (2006). Second row: (left to right) Douglas Fairbanks in The Black Pirate (1926); Robert Newton as Long John Silver in Treasure Island (1950); Sherman the parrot; Errol Flynn as Captain Blood (1935). Third row: Charles Laughton as Captain Kidd (1945); (Charlton Heston as Long John Silver in Treasure Island (1990); Dustin Hoffman as Hook (1991); Walter Matthau as Captain Red in Pirates (1986). Fourth row: Maureen O’Hara as Prudence ‘Spitfire’ Stevens in Against All Flags (1952); Laird Cregar as Sir Henry Morgan in The Black Swan (1942); Kevin Kline as the Pirate King in The Pirates of Penzance (1983); Graham Chapman as Yellowbeard (1983).

Davy Jones

More from P is for Pirate as we count down to Talk Like a Pirate Day, September 19th! I’ll be presenting a pirate program at Adams Memorial Library in Latrobe, PA, Friday & Saturday September 19th & 20th.

Here is D is for Davy Jones from sketch to final painting. Sorry about the color in my progress shots—must’ve been at night and I forgot to switch the flash on. You can see I based my version of Davy Jones on an 1892 ink drawing by John Tenniel from the British humor magazine, Punch. Tenniel is the guy who drew the famous illustrations for Alice In Wonderland.

A fun week at Eden Hall Upper Elementary School

Thank you for inviting me!

IMAG0592 IMAG0594 IMAG0593-1

Some great ink!

Thank you, Claire Kirsch, for your fine reportage on my recent visit to Penns Manor Elementary and my collaboration with the students to create the horrible & dreadful Baby Pandasaurus Rex! Read all about it here.

More grants for early reading programs

As I mentioned yesterday, Target offers grant money to schools and organizations who need help with an early reading program. An early reading program might entail hiring a children’s book author/illustrator to present to students (he said rather shamelessly).

Dollar General also has a grant program for early literacy/youth development—as does Barbara Bush, Verizon, Scripps-Howard, and Clorox.

Here is a round-up of foundations who offer grant money for summer reading programs. Here are awards & grants available from the International Reading Association.

If you would like a detailed description of my presentations to help you apply for these grants, be sure to give me a yell!

Target offers grants for reading programs!

If you’re a school librarian looking to hire an author or illustrator to present to your students (hint, hint) Target is accepting applications for Early Childhood Reading Grants.

I’m busily putting together a world tour. I’ll be barnstorming across New York State and Pennsylvania—maybe winding up in Connecticut—September/October 2014.

I’ll be in the Pittsburgh area for Read Across America Week, March 2 – 6, 2015.

If I’m booked for 2 or more consecutive days in the same area, I’ll give those schools a discount on my speaking fee. If you’re interested e-mail Lisa at Bookings@johnmanders.com.

L’Imperatore d’Etiopia

The Famous Nini is due out June 7, but Amazon.com already has copies available.

A scene I particularly like: the Emperor of Ethiopia arrives in Venice to visit Nini the famous cat. Here’s the thumbnail sketch—

Here is the sketch, built from the thumbnail.  I envisioned the Emperor and his daughter traveling from their ship up the canal via a royal gondola, like the one the Doge used. That’s Verdi top right, with some Carnivale party-goers (they look a little somber—the princess is tragically mute).  I tricked out the gondola with some African style pelts, but my art director felt a tiger-skin would be out-of-place in a cat-lover’s book.

The Doge's gondola

Emperor Menelik

Stella the storyteller

Here’s Stella, from Joe Bright and the Seven Genre Dudes.

Thumbnail sketch for pp 6/7. Stella the storyteller sees her rival, Joe Bright, in the back of her magic story-telling chair.

Tight sketch for page 6.

A close-up of my color map for the book.  These are small color sketches of every spread, all next to each other.  It’s easier to plan the palette, or color choices, for the entire project when I can see it all at once.  The scenes with Joe Bright feature warm yellows; the ones with Stella are cold blues and purples.  Stella tries to foil Joe with 3 different devices—these are acid green, so the reader can identify them easily.

For example:

Here’s the painting for page 6 in progress:

Joe Bright and the Seven Genre Dudes

I just got my catalogue from Upstart Books, and Joe Bright and the Seven Genre Dudes is available!  This is my second title I’ve illustrated for author Jackie Mims Hopkins.  We previously worked on Goldie Socks and the Three Libearians.

Upstart publishes books with school librarians in mind.  Here are some work-in-progress shots from Joe Bright. I’ve already posted wips here and here.