Thank you Bruce Hale for stopping by Kid Lit Frenzy and sharing about your favorite author visits.
Author visits, to borrow a phrase, are like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’ll get. But over and over again, as I’ve visited schools and libraries from New York to New Delhi, I’ve been surprised, charmed, and touched by the warm welcomes I’ve received.
Here, in no particular order, are some of my favorite author visit experiences:
1. Riding the float
One warm August, the Huxley Public Library invited me to present at that Iowa town’s Prairie Fest. And as a capper, they invited me to ride the library’s float in the Prairie Fest parade.
What a hoot! As the parade wound through town, I sat surrounded by kids with buckets of candy, waving to passersby and tossing sweets. The older boys competed to see who could throw Tootsie Pops hard enough to embed them in bystanders’ foreheads.
2. Red carpet memories
As I approached the cafeteria door of a Long Beach, California, school, two students unfurled a 20-foot-long roll of red construction paper, their version of a red carpet. Kids lined up on either side of it, and as I strolled down the “carpet,” each student told me something they particularly liked about my books.
3. I’m with the band
A Lamont, California, school librarian noticed on my bio that I sing jazz. She mentioned that the middle school jazz band would be playing for the family literacy night, and wondered if I’d like to sing with them? The student band swung hard as we did Route 66 and Well, Alright together, entertaining a crowd of pizza-eating parents and kids.
4. Which cookie rules?
Author visits aren’t usually fattening. But that changed when Crane School in Santa Barbara invited me to be a celebrity judge of their County Fair Day baking contest. As a major cookie hound, I never thought I could ever eat my fill of chocolate chip cookies. I was wrong. After sampling 22 different chocolate chip cookies from 22 different bakers, my student co-judge and I were desperate for something savory.
5. Gettin’ sharky with it
I love it when schools engage kids in projects relating to my books. The students express their creativity, and they end up getting much more out of the experience that way.
Many schools have drawing contests, but a Fort Thomas, Kentucky, school went even further. Not only did students create a Lego version of Clark the Shark and his world, but they turned the library door into a gigantic, open shark mouth. So they only way the students and I could enter the venue was by going down the gullet of a shark!
6. Meeting the bear
On a summer reading tour of Alaska libraries, I discovered that memorable experiences can occur even after the day’s presentation has concluded.
After speaking at Seward Library, I visited a glacier valley for a short hike before leaving town. The views were stunning, and on my way back down the trail, I spotted two bear cubs playing in a tree. Fascinated, I stopped to watch—and then spotted the 400-lb. mama bear at the base of the tree. For several long minutes, she stared at me, and I stared at her. And then, slowly-slowly, I went on my way and she went back to minding her cubs.
7. Hitting the Taj
For my first major international school trip, I began with the Cadillac of author visits. The American Embassy School of New Delhi invited Bruce Coville and me for five days’ worth of presentations to their kids. After treating us like visiting royalty and feeding us at fine restaurants every night, the school sent us on a side trip to the Taj Mahal. I suspect this will be the only time one of my visits involves a trip to a UNESCO World Heritage site, but over time, I’ve learned that with author visits, you never can tell.
Edgar-nominated author Bruce Hale is passionate about inspiring reluctant readers to read. He has written or illustrated more than 35 seriously funny books for children, including the popular School for S.P.I.E.S. and Chet Gecko Mysteries series; as well as picture books such as Clark the Shark, Snoring Beauty, and Big Bad Baby. His creeptastic new series, The Monstertown Mysteries, debuted last month with THE CURSE OF THE WERE-HYENA. An actor and a Fulbright Scholar in Storytelling, Bruce is in demand as a speaker, having presented at conferences, universities, and schools around the world. Bruce's book The Malted Falcon was an Edgar Award Finalist and Murder, My Tweet won the Little D Award for Humor Writing. He lives in Santa Barbara, California with his wife and dog. You can find him online at www.brucehale.com.
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The Full Moon of the Were-Hyena Howling Good Giveaway!
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