How lucky I am to teach in a building where staff, students and parents all support special events like author visits. I worry sometimes that the every other year schedule might be too much, too overwhelming and too frequent. I worry that the kids will begin to take it for granted and the staff tire of me asking them to read books that may not fit exactly into their curriculum. Then the event comes and I realize I worry too much!
I have spent the last two days in the company of Newbery Honor author Kirby Larson. Just let me say that she is AWESOME! Kirby met my colleague Joyce and I at the airport, a meeting we almost messed up by sitting in the wrong concourse! Fortunately we met on the escalator and things went smoothly from there.
After a quick stop at Starbucks on the first day, we were off to Bailey where Kirby presented first to a group of 11 classes, about 225 kids ages PreK to grade 2. She captured their attention from the get go and they were with her for the entire 40 minute presentation. The presentation featured her book The Two Bobbies and the process she and Mary Nethery went through to create this touching picture book. They finished with some thoughtful questions and I knew we were in for a special two days.
The next two groups were smaller, and included grades 3 - 5. I was proud of our kids and how much they remembered about Kirby from our classes leading up to her visit. Her presentation for the older kids featured her path to becoming an author. I was impressed with some of the photos she shared, especially the school photo with the sweet cat glasses and the family photo of her bossing her siblings. It takes a lot of courage to share those sorts of things, but that's what made our time with Kirby so special and how she connected with the kids at Bailey. Kids are smart and they know when adults are genuine and comfortable talking to them. They had no doubt about Kirby, she was a sincere as they come.
The kids were a bit shocked when she revealed that it took 21 tries to get The Two Bobbies just right, and 31 for Nubs!
The teachers were grateful she shared this fact hoping it will make it easier to convince their students to write that paragraph at least one more time.
The readers of Hattie Big Sky were mesmerized by the photo of the actual Homestead site of Kirby's great grandmother, the inspiration for the story.
We were all taken in by the photos of her dog, WINSTON THE WONDER DOG!
I was thrilled, and so were the kids with her personal conversations as she signed each book.
She became an honorary member of the Bailey Newbery Club over pizza.
Of course she signed the wall in THE PIT making creative use of the letter "I."
There are so many things that made the visit a HUGE success, but the most important reason is that Kirby Larson is so wonderful to be around. The students, staff and parents of Bailey Elementary School are truly fortunate to have had this opportunity.