Books were lined up on tables at Sandy Hook School, located at Monroe’s Chalk Hill Middle School, on the morning of Tuesday, February 12. Each book was written, illustrated, or both by one of the 12 authors and illustrators that visited the school district for that day.
Author Marc Tyler Nobleman organized the day, with help from United Way, according to Sandy Hook School Librarian Yvonne Cech. The day’s visit started with the authors and illustrators arriving at Sandy Hook School, and by the afternoon all of Newtown’s schools had been visited by multiple authors and illustrators.
The event was originally planned for Monday, February 11, but, with the aftermath of Storm Nemo causing a school cancellation that day, the event was rescheduled for Tuesday.
The group of authors and illustrators first broke up into groups to visit kindergarten and first grade classrooms to give individual presentations. Then, presentations for the older grades began in the school’s Lecture Hall.
In a first grade classroom before the presentations in the Lecture Hall began, Susan Hood and Mr Nobleman gave short presentations for students.
When she was asked to be part of the day’s visit, Ms Hood said she thought hard about what she could do. Through a poem she told the students all the things she couldn’t do, like sing opera, and the things she can do, like bake a “mean apple pie.”
“My friend can burp the alphabet,” Ms Hood read from her poem, which she presented with a slide of images, “I haven’t mastered that one yet.”
Then, she told the students, she knew what she would do as her presentation.
“I knew right then what I could do, so I wrote this poem just for you,” said Ms Hood.
When Mr Nobleman spoke with the first graders, he read a segment from his book, Boys of Steel, The Creators of Superman. The portion he read described how Superman was first thought up, and after reading he had the students create their own superhero. He had the students vote for whether their hero would be a man or a woman, and had students decide what details would be added to their hero.
In the end, the students created a female superhero with long hair, a short skirt, sparkling strong gloves, and a fish emblem on her chest, and named her Seawoman.
Later, in the Lecture Hall, Mr Nobleman told the gathered students between them, the 12 visiting authors and illustrators had created almost 500 books and had come from four different states to visit Newtown.
“This is kind of like ‘Authors Got Talent,’ if you want to put it that way,” said Mr Nobleman, explaining what the students were about to see.
One by one the authors and illustrators gave presentations of their differing talents for the students. Katie Davis shared a story about how her children inspire her. Daniel Kirk played a song on his guitar and sang about one of his characters, Sam the Library Mouse. Vincent X. Kirsch demonstrated some of his characters using a toy theater. Tracy Dockray introduced the students to a puppet rat, and Mike Rex told the students about some of the ways he has found inspiration for his books.
After the presentations at Sandy Hook School were completed, the authors were split into groups to visit Middle Gate Elementary School, Head O’ Meadow Elementary School, and Hawley Elementary School.
Other authors and illustrators that visited Newtown students on Tuesday were Alan Katz, Bruce Degen, Tad Hills, Meghan McCarthy, and Bob Shea.