Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Author Visit a Big Success!

Last Thursday, January 31, the Paideia Library brought Young Adult author Alan Gratz to school for a day of teaching and discussing his path to becoming a successful YA writer. He had a fully packed day, meeting with 4 high school and junior high classes, and again with aspiring high school writers during lunch.

The day started with an all-male high school literature class, where Alan discussed writing the father-son relationship, and the all-male world of Samurai Shortstop. The discussion was really rolling when the period ended; they could have gone on for much longer.

In two junior high lit classes, Alan’s “author talk” discussed his life as a writer, including two rejected early novels, a stint as a scriptwriter for a true-crime TV series, and how he developed from a guy who hated research into one who has written meticulously researched, outlined and revised historical fiction. Alan showed a photograph of a man in traditional kimono and sandals, throwing out the first pitch in the 1915 Japanese high school baseball championships. It captured his imagination, and Samurai Shortstop became the story of the people in the photo.

In another JH class, Alan led a writing workshop in which students created the story of a photograph -- who's in the picture? where are they? why are they there? -- an idea that the teachers have turned into an autobiography writing exercise, using students’ own family pictures.

This was the first time I’ve planned and coordinated an author visit, and it was as stress-free as an author visit could possibly be. I hope they’ll all be as successful -- for the students, teachers, author and your friendly librarian.

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