Author Visit: James Burks

On Friday, March 11th, we had a very special visitor at our school.  Illustrator turned author, James Burks stopped by to chat and have some fun.

First Up: Lunch with Read-a-thon Winners -
The prize for the top four readers in our first annual Read-a-Thon was to have lunch with James.  We started off with a Gator Pizza (pepperoni) and a Gabby Pizza (Veggies) and a cheese pizza just in case.  Around the table, students asked James lots of questions about how he came up with the idea for Gabby and Gator.  And of course, why does Gator like to eat dogs.
James gave us all kinds of secrets at lunch.  I had to sit on my hands so as not to grab my camera and take pictures of things I can't post yet.  The students were so excited.  They got to see a book trailer James made that won't be out until September, and a sneak peak at his new graphic novel to be released in 2012, and he even flipped through his journal.  He then showed the girls how to draw Gabby & Gator.  There is some surprising talent in this group.
Next Up: Special Edition Literacy Café:
After lunch, we invited a group of students to participate in a modified Literacy Café.  We rotated groups of students through 3 activities.

One activity was centered around No Name Calling and how to respond when you are bullied (one of the themes in Gabby & Gator is around bullying and standing up to a bully).  Children created their own comic strips talking about how to respond to a bully.  They also made Gator bookmarks saying "My name is _______. Not _______." They filled in the last blank with a name that they had been called in the past.  (In the book, Gabby says to the bully "My name is Gabby. Not Freak.").

In the book, Gabby is very pro recycling and loves playing the Tuba.  Gator enjoys dancing with her.  Our Café participants made musical instruments out of recycled materials.  Gabby would be proud.

Of course, the students loved learning about how James' creates his characters and were mesmerized by watching James draw.

No author visit would be complete without an opportunity to get a book signed by the author/illustrator.  James was kind enough to sign books for students and draw in each book.

If you want to know more about James Burks and his art and books, check out his website here.  You can find James on twitter: @jamesburksart and on Facebook:!/james.burks

I leave you with a fun little video from our event: