Anica Mrose Rissi in Washington County

Anica Mrose Rissi lit up the imaginations of kids in Washington County when she returned with IRW to visit Edmunds Consolidated School and Princeton Elementary School in October.

Edmunds Consolidated School

To kick things off at Edmunds, the whole school gathered in the library for a reading of Anica’s picture book “The Teacher’s Pet.” Mrs. Calder, the 5-8 grade ELA teacher, was a hoot to watch as she reacted to the story. “I’m so worried,” she said when Mr. Stricter got eaten. Giggles erupted upon hearing, “He farts for show and tell.” “You are a very fun audience!” Anica declared.

During the Q&A session, a student asked if he could name the hamster, the  new class pet at the end of the book. “Write me an essay arguing your point,” Anica said, and reeled off her mailing address. Speaking of writing, she told the kids to pay attention to the voice inside that says,  “Oh, that’s interesting to me,” when writing.

Grades pre-K to 4 were participated in writing workshops with Anica and they had done some impressive work preparing for her visit.

Pre-K and kindergarten students students wrote their own book, “The Class Pet,” which Anica read aloud. They also got to hear a reading of “Watch Out for Wolf,” Anica’s most recent picture book.

First and second graders created profiles of their dream class pets. They adorned the walls of the hallway and were vibrant and creative: a giraffe named Lila, a leopard named Mr. Putty, an elephant named Violet and more. They also created pets they thought their teacher, Mrs. Garnett, would like. A spooky live pumpkin named “Auto bot” was one example, because he could help kids on the bus. Or Sunshine because she is cute and can cook her own food. Oh, how we love the imaginations of kids!

Third and fourth graders came armed with questions about “Anna, Banana, and the Friendship Split.” “Have you ever had a friendship split before?”, they asked. After sharing how a real life friendship split helped her write the story, she got the kids asking their own questions based on title prompts so they could write their own stories. The title “The Day My Sister Came Back,” drew out some pretty wild ideas of where that sister had been. Taking note of the friendship theme, the kids created a friendship chain that was displayed outside their classroom with lots of messages on how to be kind and inclusive.

Princeton Elementary School

Next up was Princeton and the IRW team drove towards the blood orange sky in the wee hours of the morning to get there bright and early. After arriving, a middle grade teacher with a sparkle in her eye told Anica, “Because of you my kids want a komodo dragon as a class pet!”

Princeton students had great questions during the Q&A with Anica:

Why the name Bruno?

What breed is your dog?

Do you like snakes?

Does the teacher even realize he’s a hippo?

How could a hippo fit through the door? (Anica suggested they figure that one out in science class!)

After that, it was off to workshops and discovering what rich research had been done by the kids.

Grades pre-K and kindergarten joined the first grade class where the kids had chosen pets they thought were appropriate for each class in the school. They had posters explaining their logic. Again the questions flowed with excitement with a preschooler asking, “Why did the hippo eat Mr. Stricter?”

Anica surprised the kids by asking “Would you like to be the very first kids to hear my newest book?” It was a real treat to hear her read an advanced copy of “Love, Sophia on the Moon.”

Grades 2-4 participated in creative story workshops where they brainstormed ideas using several titles pulled from a hat. Let me tell you, these stories got wild and Anica had the room in stitches as she brilliantly remembered each little detail and retold them in dramatic fashion. Anica knows how to get those wheels spinning to generate fun and silly stories that delight her young writers. We hope they had as much fun as we did!

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