“If I was going to make this jellybean shape into a dinosaur, what would I have to put on it?” asked author and illustrator Bob Shea.
“Eyes!” said the Love Elementary School students.
“So, it needs some eyes – let’s put them on,” said Mr. Shea as he drew the dinosaur eyes and made a funny sound. “Okay, can everyone make that sound? What else does he need!”
“You guys know what you are talking about, so let’s add some arms!”
Mr. Shea was meeting with Love Elementary School UPK and kindergarten students thanks to a contest through Erie 2 Chautauqua-Cattaraugus BOCES. Love Library Media Specialist, Jennie Vaughn, entered the contest and won a visit for UPK through fourth grades. Brian Mayer, current coordinator of the School Library System & Media Services, organized the visit.
Mr. Shea has written and illustrated over twenty picture books including Dinosaur vs. Bedtime, Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great, the Ballet Cat early reader series and the cult favorite Big Plans illustrated by Lane Smith. His characters and animations have appeared on Nick Jr., Playhouse Disney and PBS Kids. Love students spent the last three months becoming familiar and reading Mr. Shea’s books. In addition to their author session, every Love student was treated to one of Mr. Shea’s books compliments of the School Library System and E2CCB.
Mr. Shea used humor and a great connection with the kids, reading from his books but also showing students how capable they are of drawing his characters using just a few shapes – squiggles, circles, triangles, and the letter U – even bringing a student in each session up to help draw a character from his books on the big screen for all the students to see. He also showed second graders a picture of a tape dispenser and displayed it so that he could draw over top of it. Mr. Shea then told the students the next time their teacher asks them to write about something – just wake up their imagination because they can turn something into anything. He demonstrated this by turning the tape dispenser into a pirate ship, a bear, a shark, and many other items.
“I felt that the author visit was an authentic real world connection for our students,” said Mrs. Vaughn. “When I revealed to them the week before break that he would actually be coming to visit them – their reaction was priceless. Almost like he was a rock star in status and it was unbelievable that he would be at our school. Bob brought high energy, a great sense of humor, and a real interest in sharing how WE are ALL authors and ALL illustrators. Students were captivated and engaged from start to finish. We had trouble keeping his books on the shelves before he came – now that they have met him – the books go out as fast as they come in. They eagerly pick up his works and read them over and over – they use different voices when speaking for characters – they get the jokes – and it cracks them up! Real world connection aside – students read his books for the sheer joy that it brings them… and that makes his books and his visit a huge, huge success.”