I had a really nice visit to two elementary schools out in Hutto, Texas lately. At each school I read from my new book, Twitch the Squirrel and the Forbidden Bridge, and gave my How a Book is Made presentation.
I am so happy to find out how much kids are enjoying Twitch the Squirrel. Of course, I had hoped they would, and I wrote it for kids to enjoy, but since the theme of the book is essentially about listening to parents, I wasn’t sure how it would be received by kids. I knew parents would like it. I’ve definitely been getting a lot of enthusiasm from parents about this book. But the Hutto librarian also mentioned that her students got really absorbed in the story of Twitch when she shared it with them before my visit. This is great news and I’m really excited! Maybe it’s because it’s got more action than some of my other stories…and I’m sure a lot of it has to do with Dave Allred’s great illustrations. You can’t have a picture book without the pictures!
There was some great audience participation at the Hutto schools during the How a Book is Made presentation. There were so many willing volunteers to help me with some “experiments” that demonstrate how authors choose the illustrator they will work with. Here’s a picture of some students helping out with that part of the presentation. They did a great job! All of them got to choose a special edition CBA poster to thank them for volunteering.
I also found out that in Hutto, they have a character education program in place for students in grades K-8 called Early Act First Knight that encourages and rewards students for demonstrating good qualities that will be of value in the community. Students who receive recognition from their teachers can be knighted (over time…they have to move up through the ranks of page, squire and knight) in special knighting ceremonies. Of course I think this is really cool…especially since knights are featured heavily in my new series of chapter books. I think I’ll definitely have to go back for another visit to Hutto once the book is ready for readers.
Side note: Here’s a recent interview of me published in Education News by Michael Shaughnessy, Professor of Educational Studies, Eastern New Mexico University.