Pinewood classrooms were filled with laughter last Tuesday as kindergarten and first grade students got a firsthand experience with two Minnesota authors and illustrators, Nancy Carlson and Chris Monroe.
Students learned where authors got inspiration for books and characters, helped to spot mistakes and created their own characters.
Nancy Carlson is the author and illustrator of more than 60 children’s picture books. She visits to over 150 school classrooms each year.
Pinewood’s first grade classrooms got to be a part of this year’s lineup, and they soaked up Carlson’s presentation with enthusiasm as they listened to her stories and helped her create a new storyline for one of her popular characters, Harriet the dog. Some of the student ideas she drew included a scared iguana, a bird on a skateboard and a four-headed alien.
Students also found mistakes in books that were initially discovered not by herself or her editor, but by a kindergarten student.
“If any of you become illustrators someday, do not make mistakes in your art, or you will told by kindergartners,” she told the first-grade students. Many of Carlson’s character or story inspirations came through her own personal connections, such as her three children, her former grade-school bully or even the candy store she frequented as a child.
Her books have been chosen as Reading Rainbow selections. She has received other awards such as the Children’s Choice Award from the International Reading Association and Children’s Book Council. She lives with her family in Bloomington.
Across the hall from Carlson, there were giggles galore in kindergarten classrooms as Chris Monroe read her book “Monkey with a Tool Belt” to students and showed them how to draw a monkey.
She has also written and illustrated “Totally Uncool,” two other “Monkey with a Tool Belt” books and “Sneaky Sheep,” as well as illustrating the books of others and creating the comic strip “Violet Days,” which appears in the Star Tribune and the Duluth News Tribune.
She has won awards for her writing and illustrating, including three Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards. Monroe lives in Duluth.
Both authors are part of the Children’s Literacy Network. Pinewood’s Parent-Teacher Organization funded these author visits in support of the school’s media and language arts standards.