Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The close of my 2013-2014 School Visit Season

The World's Largest Jack Rabbit in Odessa, TX

Now is the time of year when the school year comes to an end, and similarly my “school visit” year has come to an end as well. In 2013-2014 I had the opportunity to visit many wonderful schools across North America. If I was more diligent at keeping up my blog I would have devoted a blog entry to each school, but since I am a sporadic blogger I’ll try to lump them all together in one entry.

I don’t think British Columbia and Louisiana come into direct competition very often (not a whole lot of curling on the bayou) but for some reason they seemed to be involved in a contest to see which one could delude me into feeling like a literary celebrity. They each booked me for a full week. In British Columbia I spent the entire week working with a school full of young authors at Taylor Elementary. It was a rare treat to be able to spend multiple days with the students, sharing first my author/illustrator presentation, then having multiple workshop sessions with each class.
This is me drawing a caricature of a contest winner
in Taylor, BC

In Shreveport Louisiana I spent the week visiting 6 different schools and participating in their city wide Art Break, where the city’s convention center is devoted to student art and performance from across the parish. And they had a definite agenda, and that was to send me home heavier than when I arrived. Fried green tomatoes, crawfish, and barbeque were among their weapons of choice.

I also got to visit my first military base school in Fort Leavenworth Kansas. I made it to schools in both Carolinas, Texas, and Ohio. I was able to visit family and friends while visiting schools in Georgia, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York. I visited students in my neighboring state of Massachusetts, and finished up with a visit to a school in Jamaica (Jamaica, Vermont, just 45 minutes up the road from me).

Here a few things I learned this past year:

         1) In Canada they pronounce “The A to Z Mysteries” as “The A to Zed Mysteries.”
Coming in for a landing in Canada.

         2) To eat a crawdad, twist off the head, suck the juice out of the head, pinch the tail, pull out the meat (eat it), then suck the claws. And most importantly: DON’T TOUCH YOUR EYES FOR THE NEXT 48 HOURS! (the spices burn).
This a small serving of crawdads. Cathy and Louis Smith demonstrate the proper technique.
         3) The world’s largest jack rabbit is in Odessa Texas.

         4) In Hershey PA Chocolate Avenue is lined with Hershey Kiss streetlamps.

         5) There is a life size replica of Stone Henge in Odessa Texas (not sure if the Druids would know what to make of Armadillos).
Stone Henge, Texas style
         6) Vince-a-saurus, Maddy-a-saurus, and Akeem-a-saurus are a few of the First Grade Dinosaurs in South Carolina

         7) Kids who attend school on military bases do NOT have to salute their teachers

It was a great year, and I would like to thank all of the teachers, librarians, PTO & PTA parents, principals and community leaders who worked hard to make my visits possible.
A workshop with students in Clayton, NC
One of many royal welcomes in Shreveport, LA.