Styling Librarian: Author Visit with Lenore Look
Lenore Look visited Bradbury School in November, but she and I agreed to wait and connect our blog posts together so that our readers could enjoy both points of view- an author’s experience visiting a school and a teacher librarian/school’s perspective. Have you read Lenore Look’s Blog before? There are fun glimpses into an author’s life, writing tips, and you can follow her adventures by reading her posts, especially the recent ones on her adventures in China. Some readers already know about Lenore Look visiting Bradbury. I have posted a few times already about Lenore. Once I posted about about how we originally connected online: http://thestylinglibrarian.com/2012/10/02/styling-librarian-author-connections-through-twitter-and-blogging/ and then the other post was an author interview: http://thestylinglibrarian.com/2012/10/26/styling-librarian-author-interview-lenore-look/
Here’s a reflection on Lenore Look’s author visit:
Oh, what a lovely day it can be when you get to spend time with an author hero. Preparations for the visit were almost as much fun as the visit itself! Here are some of the things that we prepared with: made promotional movie, created large posters and popped them up in all the stairwells along with around the library, promoted the visit through newsletters and on the library blog page, read aloud numerous Lenore Look books to classes, read Lenore Look’s blog and interview to classes, prepared schedule and lunch and presentation space… Plus many more things I’ve simply forgotten with the mish mash of everything else that occurred afterwards.
It was lovely to Skype with Lenore a few evenings before the visit and see what was going on with her in China. What an adventure to keep up with – read Lenore’s blog posts, I love her attitude and sense of humor as she copes with many complications…
Once she was here in Hong Kong, we had the plan to have my husband be her escort from the hotel to the school. It is a little complicated to get to the school if you’re riding a subway and flagging down a taxi. Fantastic to experience the anticipation along with the children as the taxi pulled up and she stepped in the door. Lenore immediately asked me to stand for a picture which I loved since I understand taking pictures for the blogging aspect… We set Lenore up in the first room she was presenting in and settled in for presentations. We had 240 children per presentation and each level had special experiences.
Presentations began with some prediction questions about how Lenore was as a student growing up. Then it led to a discussion on what she’s done through the years as a writer. Lenore’s childhood included creating books and selling them in first grade. She brought along some of her writers journals. She highly suggests keeping a writer’s notebook and showed all of her journals. When she showed her journals she pointed out how she writes different ideas in different colors to help her visually find ideas again. She also pointed out that she organizes and marks ideas with sticky notes when she has used ideas in her journals for her writing. (That was quite impressive as there were loads of sticky notes sticking out on most of her journals.) She also adds a pocket to the back of each of her journal notebooks for newspaper articles that inspire her. Sometimes when Lenore journals she creates lists to brainstorm. She asked students to think of what lists they would write, here are some of the ideas: names of people you know, family members, 10 things you should know about me, places where you have been, unusual words, and lists of questions.
Lenore showed this gorgeous egg that she painted that led to her inspiration to write a picture book which is a memoir: Polka Dot Penguin Pottery. Isn’t it amazing to see how an author can get inspiration? I stared at this egg for quite a while until I realized I should take a picture of it.
Lenore also led discussion on her personal experience in school and how she grew through the years. With the oldest student group, since Alvin Ho’s father uses Shakespearian curses, we tried some out. Lenore pulled out the inspiration she had for this idea: a Shakespearean insult sheet her daughter had received to use for an assignment years ago. This insult sheet led to students and staff learning how to curse in Shakespeare and also extended to think on how to compliment in Shakespeare.
A favorite teacher at Bradbury took some insults from Lenore and then threw some insults at her as well:
Lenore led a writers’ workshop for my older students, some students actually watched through a live feed in another room since this was quite popular, and I asked them what their favorite take away ideas were, here are some of their answers:
“what a dummy book was”; “I liked the trick she taught us about making metaphors and hooking the reader”; “how she expressed herself”; “The best idea for me was keeping a writers notebook”; “pick one small idea as an anchor/beginning hook for your story”.
I personally loved these ideas:
-Plot vs. characterization, which is more important? A: characterization, reader needs a connection
-create an ideas board and after creating an idea web about a character and their characteristics, get a hook to the smallest detail and use that to open the door to your story.
-once you have the main character, do physical research: get facts straight. Can be made up character but check your facts for real places, situations, disasters.
-give your character an interesting flaw.
(This could go on and on but I will stop there…)
After the visit at school, Lenore and I went and visited a local bookstore. We were slightly disturbed when we found a book that seemed to be plagiarizing a Ludwig Bemelmans book:
And I learned about a humorous book that Lenore enjoyed reading:
My family enjoyed having dinner with Lenore and had a great time trying out food at a delicious restaurant… My son brought along his own creative writing he wanted to share with Lenore. It was quite special how patient and kind Lenore is with children.
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