Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Author Visits in the Redwoods: The Humboldt County Author Festival

Everyone needs a sign like this in front of their house, or wherever they go!  This sign was waiting for me in the parking lot of Freshwater School, the first of three amazing schools that I visited last week in Humboldt County as part of the biannual Humboldt County Author Festival.  At every school, the children had read my books in preparation for my visit and, in many cases, had done art projects as well.

At Garfield, the second school I visited, the children had created their own bookmarks, using the cut-paper technique I use for my book illustrations.  I was impressed how inventive they were and how they adapted their designs to the shape of the paper.  (One of my favorites was a crocodile.)
At the third school I visited, Maple Creek, a small rural school nestled in a pristine valley, the children had collected fossils from the creek (knowing that I have a particular interest in fossils and prehistoric life) and then composed two songs about prehistoric animals that they performed for me. They had also done artwork in advance of my visit including a painted life-size killer whale and a mural of Ice Age life in the Maple Creek valley.

I am always amazed at the creativity of the teachers, librarians, and children at the schools I visit and how they are able to use books like mine to inspire reading and as springboards for other activities.  The pleasure I get from doing school visits is that I get to interact with my readers and see how my books are actually used in the classroom.  I also get to meet all the hardworking teachers and librarians who are putting those books into the hands of children. In addition to the school visits, the Humboldt County Author Festival also included an art exhibit at the Morris Graves Art Museum in Eureka, where I had two of my illustrations on display, and a book signing at the public library in Eureka.  The Humboldt County Author Festival is possible only because dozens of volunteers spend months organizing it.  I am grateful for all their hard work and pleased that I can be part of it.

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