Visiting young people at schools and festivals is
one of my favorite ways of staying in touch with the energy and creativity of young people
and their teachers and librarians. I like to talkthat's why I write, so I will talk
about myself and what I have learned from my own children.
Conferences: A good share of my conference presentations are geared
to reading and library organizations, I am also looking for venues
that are interested in addressing the need for finding YA books and
picture books that are satisfying to older people. I have spoken
the Literacy Council in Anchorage and to the Nevada State Library
Association in hopes of gathering a booklist for Hospice, senior
retirement centers, and assisted living homes.
Presentations: I spend about a fourth of my time presenting to students,
teachers, librarians. Below is a list of what is included in presentations
to different levels of students. If your school has a specific request,
theme, or need from a presentation, I will be happy to tailor my talk to
Workshops: I have being increasingly exchanging or adding presentation time to
school visits for teachers and administrators. The purpose, whether they are writing or art workshops,
is to let them relax, have fun with words, art, and take that enthusiasm back to the classroom. There
are also lurking writers and illustrators within the teaching profession that just need a boost of good,
professional materials, and guided writing time to get them to let their own ideas flow. See below for
some of my typical workshops.
Of course, I am always happy to talk about me, my books, my art ... me, me, me.
For more information or to schedule a visit, contact me at
I always include overhead slides or projections as well as hands-on art and a demonstration of
how I work.
School visits have a maximum of four presentations a day.
Please allow time for questions after each presentation.
Presentation Themes and Ideas:
Because each group has different interests, I offer something tailored to each level.
- Ideas! Letting my imagination play with words, images, and
tales I want to retell and make up.
- Going from real life to the not-so-real stories in my books.
- Playing with words, pictures, and music it's the same game!
- Putting the picture in my head down on paper.
- There's a child in me, too.
- Journals and scrapbooks of words, images and lyrics.
- Everyone can tell a different story about the same event.
- Don't grow up so fast that you can no longer play with words and pictures.
- Write for yourself and then do the work to make it satisfy others.
- What does being "creative" mean?
- The business of writing-exhilaration to work to "burnout"
to the exhilaration of the next project.
- Creativity is a drive to keep doing something. Talent means you've done
it over and over and now you are doing it better and better. Will you ever think you are as
talented as you want to be?
- What do you do with YOUR thoughts and visions? What keeps us from putting them
down for ourselves?
- Writing lyrics for musicfreeing up the rhythm inside your words.
- A big vocabulary is like a complete set of paintsan artist knows his medium
like a writer knows (heaven forbid) the dictionary.
- Ups and downs of a "creative" life.
- How I warped my life to fit some of it into my books.
- How children's art has given me a new freedom (or did I have it long ago?) with
my art and taken me back to the reason I started loving children's books.
- A diet of children's literature should be part of an adult's life as well.
- The importance of adults telling their own stories and reading
their favorites to pass them on.
Here are some of my typical workshops:
FABLE WRITING WORKSHOP (FOR ADULTS AND STUDENTS FROM UPPER ELEMENTARY
THROUGH HIGH SCHOOL)
Within a two hour time period participants decide in teams on a value they would like to see more of
in the world....kindness, joy, peace, truthfulness, etc. After compiling a list of values, the teams
choose a character (often an animal) that has these attributes and one that often represents the
opposite. Using a timed writing exercise in which examples from fables are used, settings, vocabulary,
and plot are demonstrated. Participants are guided through the process of writing a story that
teaches a moral they have chosen. We take a break in the middle to see where we are headed and to my
delight many of the audiences are coming up with resolutions between the "right" and
"wrong" way. Unlike some of the earlier fables, they are finding arbitration, even at the
4th grade level.
HANDS-ON NO FAIL ART WORKSHOP (FOR TEACHERS AND ADMINISTRATORS)
Often these are done in correlation to the Fable Writing workshops. Participants are exposed
to a visual show of no-fail imagery and children's art. A half hour or more is given to being
able to experiment with a variety of materials of high quality ... pastels, good paper, watercolor
crayons, high quality colored pencils and paint , as well as paper to cut at different stations.
Depending on the length of the workshop the second half is devoted to illustrating a scene from one
of their favorite stories...either original or already written. So little time is given to teachers
to play. I find these workshops refuel their enthusiasm for teaching the arts and for sharing books.
These workshops give teachers an opportunity to be students.
HANDS-ON WORKSHOP FOR STUDENTS
Using positive, and negative shapes cut from oaktag students are invited to create scenes using
repetitive shapes. A demonstration is given and some shapes are precut for them, but they are invited
to create their own. Materials needed are Caran d-Ache watercolor crayons, brushes, scissors, mural
paper (kraft paper), tape, and water. Workshops are limited to 25-30 students. Often the result is a
scene produced by all involved. For example, in Cordova, during the Shore Bird Festival, a large whale
was created and creatively colored, and paper migratory birds were developed from stencils and attached
to the whale coming into the Cordova Harbor.