Thursday, March 06, 2008

back to work

So my sabbatical from work has ended, in reality it ended a while ago, but it was only recently that I returned to school visits. My first one was at 4 day event in the West Bloomington area of Michigan, where I am honored to say I was the official "Pine Tree" author. The Pine Tree program is a district-wide reading program, where students are challenged to read a specially selected book titles. Lucky for me, Year of the Dog was one of the titles which is how I wound up in West Bloomington.

But since it was a district wide program, that meant there were a lot of students. Let me repeat that, there were a lot of students. Really. The photo below only shows half the room, my camera did not have a wide enough lens to capture more than that. As I watched the students come into my presentation room, all I could think of was a quote from Homer Price (when the doughnut machine malfunctions): "they just kept right on a comin', an a comin', an a comin', an a comin', an a comin'."

And it's about at this point I realize that West Bloomington is kind of an intimidating place to make my inaugural return visit.

Nonetheless, I entered the gauntlet. And it wasn't too bad. Performing a school visit is like riding a bicycle-- but if you haven't ridden in a while the bicycle chain might be a bit rusty. For example, I presented a slide show to the fifth graders with this image:
Ah, I can still hear the tittering. The last time I presented that lecture it was to adults...and I forgot the middle school mentality when reviewing ahead of time. Oops. Needless to say, that slide was deleted before the next group.

Which went smoother; and by the second day I felt back in the swing of things. Confidence in full gear, I now only felt bad that I did such a mediocre job for the first group.
But the best thing about the visits really were the kids. Creating books alone as well as reading and experiencing discouraging industry news by myself makes me forget that my books are actually read. And that is a nice feeling.And truly makes it worth it to go back to work.


MotherReader said...

"Performing a school visit is like riding a bicycle-- but if you haven't ridden in a while the bicycle chain might be a bit rusty."

I loved that line. It's how I feel about booktalking to schools. We promote the public library's summer reading program to the schools every June, but because a whole year has passed since the last ones, I worry if I've still got the touch. I also like your choice of the word "performing," which seems pretty actual from what I can see.

What I'd love to hear some time from you and other authors is more about the school visits. What do you do or say or present? I've got a vague idea, but I'd love more specifics.

Anna Alter said...

Oh my gosh, that is a LOT of kids for one presentation!! What is your max limit for one talk? I usually tell people not more than 100 kids.

Rita said...

Haha! I love that you quoted Homer Price!! I just reread my copy a couple months ago!

The bicycle/bike chain analogy, followed by the picture of David= priceless.


alvinaling said...

Aw, they said that Melody doesn't like teachers! That's NOT true at all! ;)