Authors and illustrators offered different activities and presentations at Reed Intermediate School on Saturday, June 7, for the 2nd Annual New Stories For Newtown event.
The day before, Friday, June 6, authors and illustrators also visited Newtown’s schools to offer individual presentations at local schools.
The two-day experience was possible thanks to funding from the Books Heal Hearts program at C.H. Booth Library, as Children’s Librarian Lana Bennison told The Bee prior to the event. Ms Bennison and event committee members Ross MacDonald, Janice Bernard, Yvonne Cech, Kim Weber, Pia Ledina, and Georgia Monaghan coordinated the programs.
New Stories for Newtown began last year when Mr MacDonald, a Newtown resident and children’s author and illustrator, suggested the idea to Ms Bennison.
New this year is a contest, to work off of the experience of the visiting authors and illustrators, for writers and artists age 19 and under. More information and an entry form for the New Stories For Newtown: Words and Images contest is available online at Facebook.com/NewStoriesforNewtown or at chboothlibrary.org. Original works of art, illustration, poetry, fiction, graphic novels, digital art, paintings, collages, prints, fabric art, and photography will be accepted through August 30. Mixed media or three-dimensional pieces can be submitted via a clear photograph of the piece. Each piece must relate to the theme “What inspires me…”
On Saturday, people started arriving at Reed Intermediate School before noon. Presentations and actives ran throughout the day. In one room authors and illustrators signed copies of their books; drawing workshops were offered by Jarrett Krosoczka, Karen Romano Young, and Nathan Fox; stuffed animal portraits were overseen by a number of authors and illustrators; and presentations were held in the school’s cafetorium.
Authors and illustrators who participated in Saturday’s New Stories For Newtown were Alan Katz, Sarah Darer Littman, Gail Carson Levine, Jennifer Thermes, Jarrett Krosoczka, Dan Yaccarino, Karen Romano Young, Nathan Fox, Joe McKendry, Paul Meisel, Kristine Humber, Ross MacDonald, Dingding Hu, Katrina Kopeloff, Kelly Murphy, Steve Brodner, and Antoine Revoy, according to the library.
At schools across Newtown, authors and illustrators offered presentations for students on June 6.
Middle Gate Elementary school students heard Dan Yaccarino share how he creates books, has worked on television shows, but at one point, he too, was a student.
“It’s the thing that makes me feel good,” said Mr Yaccarino about drawing and writing. “It’s the thing that makes me happy.”
Mr Yaccarino told the students how he drew inspiration from his love of fish and his childhood interest in Jacque Cousteau to come up with the idea for his book The Fantastic Undersea Life of Jacques Cousteau.
Before talking to the students about the Nick Jr show Oswald, which Mr Yaccarino created and produces, he explained to students that all animation begins with a storyboard. He also showed his first drawing of Oswald.
Bethel resident and author and illustrator Karen Romano Young was seated inside a science classroom at St Rose of Lima School when third grade students began finding their seats and Ms Young’s books distributed on tables.
“I call Doodlebug!” one student said, while another said, “I call Stuck in the Middle!”
Ms Young shared stories of her adventures in the submersible called Alvin, which has been in operation since 1964, according to the National Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration, and spoke about her process for writing and illustrating.
“We have seen 100 percent of the moon, but we have only seen five percent of the bottom of our own planet,” said Ms Young.
Her two experiences of exploring in Alvin are some of the top experiences of her life, Ms Young told the students.
Ms Young has also been selected, according to a press release, to continue exploring the ocean this summer with Titanic discoverer Robert Ballard’s Nautilus Exploration Program. Ms Young, a 2014 Science Communications Fellow, will join the Corps of Exploration onboard Exploration Vessel (E/V) Nautilus August 16–30, as the crew explores the Windward Passage off Jamaica, Cuba, and Haiti; 22 educators and 24 students will also go to sea during the expeditions to explore the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea, and the Atlantic Ocean.
The first book Ms Young told St Rose students that she illustrated herself was Across The Wide Ocean: The Why, How, and Where of Navigation for Humans and Animals at Sea. She also told students that her Doodlebug: A Novel in Doodles, was first drawn in spiral-bound notebook with a black line marker and a gray line marker. The notebook was scanned and made into a book, she said.
Reed Intermediate School students asked Gail Carson Levine all about the process of publishing books. Ms Levine explained the process and how the process has changed since she first began publishing books. The first step, Ms Levine told the students, is writing a book.
In an art room at Reed Intermediate School, Nathan Fox was surrounded by students as he demonstrated his drawing techniques.
Author and illustrator Barbara McClintock visited with Hawley Elementary School students on Friday. She shared stories from her own childhood, showed students photos of her house and studio, and offered the story of her journey to becoming an author and illustrator.
When Ms McClintock was in college she read a story about author and illustrator Maurice Sendak. She was inspired by the story, and thought the worst thing that would happen if she called him for advice would be that he would hang up.
“And I called, and he picked up the phone,” Ms McClintock said.
Ms McClintock shared some of her techniques for working — she no longer draws on the walls like she did as a young girl, but now her drawings are taped up her walls. She also shared stories from some of her recent books, like Where’s Mommy?, My Grandfather’s Coat, and Leave Your Sleep.
Newtown Middle School students learned how Jeff Kinney went from wanting to draw comics for newspapers to being the author and illustrator of his Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, after years of effort.
“After the book got published, things really started to take off,” said Mr Kinney.
Mr Kinney also spoke to the students about what it was like seeing items he drew for the books become real items in the movies. Because of the books, Mr Kinney said he has gotten to do “some really cool things,” like designing a Greg Heffley balloon for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
“If you’re lucky like me,” said Mr Kinney, “maybe one day you will get to see your dream fly.”