Calef Brown at Lubec, Beatrice Rafferty and Whiting

Author and illustrator Calef Brown kicked off IRW’s spring 2018 author visits with three stops at Lubec Consolidated School, Beatrice Rafferty School and Whiting Village School at the end of March. He brought along three of his titles including “How to Hypnotize a Tiger,” “Boy Wonders” and “Flamingoes on the Roof.”

“Calef Brown is so much fun!” is what we heard over and over while touring all three Washington County schools. His word crashes, whimsical and imaginative illustrations, and “combination creatures” mesmerize everyone. At Lubec, the younger students shared some of their own book creations and combination creatures. The third and fourth graders were playing with idioms, metaphors and personification and designed some funny artwork for Calef to complement the word play. They went all out and hosted us for a catered lunch while they also “fed us” with their spoken poems.

At Beatrice Rafferty in Sipayik, grades 3-7 heard Calef’s own story and how he got to be an author/illustrator. He shared his own struggle with how he overcame struggles and obstacles to become a successful illustrator. He also reminded the students: “Something you like when you are little could become an important part of your life later on.” Students in 5th and 6th grade learned about using images in media for clients and how universal symbols play a role in the process. For example, magazine clients give you an article and you have to find images that portray the messaging in the words. “Sometimes questions generate the best answers,” Calef told them.

Mrs. Guire (5th grade) relayed to us that one of her students said Calef was her favorite IRW presenter yet. Apparently, she doesn’t hand out compliments very readily so kudos to Calef! Another Beatrice Rafferty teacher noted the similarity of Calef’s use of combination animals to the images on a totem pole.


At Whiting Village School, everyone was pumped up for the visit since they had made a request for an illustrator visit. While the youngest kids enjoyed hearing Calef’s book “Boy Wonders” read by the author, they also showed their own creativity in a creature design session.

Based on “Flamingoes on the Roof”, 2nd through 4th graders shared the images they had created in words and pictures; haiku like poetry, perspective drawings, and fanciful animal combinations. Some had prepared their very own collections as books, which they proudly gave to Calef.

Whiting 5th through 8th graders had worked with the art teacher to develop their own posters of passion; themes or issues that were important to them which gave the focus to their visual messaging.

Most importantly Calef has everyone joining in the creative process and reminds them in his parting words that they can do this too! He inspired the young writers and artists at each school  by explaining that, “Sketching is like thinking; it’s just for me. The books are like speaking; sharing the thoughts with others.”


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