Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Give Thanks for Illustrators

What a treat our K-3 students had last week! Keika Yamaguchi, illlustrator of Puddle Pug and Sick of Being Sick, talked to our four K-3 classes (nearly 100 students) about her work as an illustrator. She also read the book Puddle Pug, and left each class with some original artwork.

During her presentation, Keika displayed some of her childhood drawings and told the students that as a child she didn't think she was a good artist- so her parents did drawing assignments for her. When she received so many compliments on "her" artwork, she became concerned that someone would discover her secret. So she practiced and grew better. She led the students in a discussion about what they found difficult (one boy said learning how to play baseball) and let them know that practice would help them improve. When Keika was five, she and her family moved from Japan to the United States. While learning English, she used her art to make friends

Using slides and original art work, students were able to follow Keika's illustrative process for Puddle Pug from early sketches to revisions to final product. Students were delighted to find out that Keika actually played with mud, splattering it on paper to see what it ooked like so she could paint it more realistically in her illustrations.  

Students had time to ask questions and found out that Keika is working on two picture books due out next year. She showed the students a few illustrations from each book. 

Lastly, based on students suggestions, Keika created a poster sized Percy for each class, adapting each one to students' responses to her questions.

Keika's informative and kid-friendly visit was engaging, well paced, and enjoyed by all. In addition to learning more about the illustrator's role in a book, students also learned a few valuable life skills: something difficult can be perfected with practice and there's a process involved to many projects that requires creative exploration and revision before completion.

For days after the visit, parents told me how much their children loved the visit. Our annual book fair coincided with her visit and her books sold like hotcakes!

We look forward to a future visit from our new friend, Keika

Visit Keika's website to learn more about her work.

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