Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Books Alive !

We, as writers, slog away at the keyboard, writing and researching our books for children in a somewhat solitary way, so what a wonder it is to see your own book come alive with an audience of several hundred children.

Early this month, at the end of the first week of school, I visited the Milltown School in Bridgewater, NJ to see the unveiling of a huge mural depicting a page, the "J is for Jersey" page of my book, G IS FOR THE GARDEN STATE (Sleeping Bear Press). The dedicated staff at the school had transformed their large lunch room into an internet cafe with computer stations in several of the corners and decorated the room with the grand new mural.

When we arrived for the unveiling of the 12 x 10 foot mural, a depiction of the map of the state of New Jersey complete with pictures painted on it of some of the important people, places (T - Trenton, the capital), parks, historical events (W-General Washington in Morristown in the Revolution), inventions (E -Edison, light bulb), industries and farms, resorts (Atlantic City), outdoor sports, environmental aspects and foods (T -Jersey Tomatoes!) and more, the mural was covered by a large panel. I was anxious to see the mural since the talented illustrator of my book, Doris Ettlinger, (www.dorisettlinger.com), and two muralists had worked in the heat of the summer to produce this great work of art so the unveiling could kick off the year for the children in the new internet cafe.

Well, the children poured into the room with the babble of high energy and curiosity. The principal held up his hand for quiet and silence descended. The curtain panel was pulled off the mural with ceremony and there was great applause. The children will see this bigger than life map of their state every day as they munch their lunch and work on the computers.They were excited to see the size and story of New Jersey before them in detailed living color.

What a reward for me as the writer, and I'm sure even more so for Doris as illustrator after such back breaking work, to see the reaction of the students and to know that this work will remain here for quite a while. Often a book that took a year to write is read once but here we are thrilled to see that this page will be open for a long time to come.

So, I came home pumped to get back to the keyboard to write again. It was such inspiration to see all these wired and excited kids using my work, so now I'm hard at work on several projects. What have your experiences been with school or library visits with children and how have they reacted to and used your work? How has that helped you in your writing?


  1. Eileen,

    You're lucky to have had an illustrator who was willing to do this!

  2. I haven't done a school visit myself, but I've witnessed a number of them. It is really exciting to see kids connect with authors--to see them open up to the revision process and to be excited about improving their work. I really look forward to school visits.

  3. Gale and Judy,

    School visits are fun and rewarding - and instructive.The students at Milltown School are smart and curious and because of my illustrator, Doris Ettlinger's talents, can see New Jersey in living color every day!