Following the Middle-Grade Read at Edmunds Consolidated School, author John David “Dave” Anderson visited both Princeton Elementary School and Woodland Elementary School in Baileyville on April 2 and April 3, respectively. The entrances to both schools were decorated with large posters welcoming him. His middle-grade novel, “Posted,” was the focus for these visits and he was met with students saying, “I love your book!” as he walked through the halls.
Both days began with all-school presentations in which Dave introduced himself and talked about how he got into writing and why he loves it. He had everyone laughing with his fast-talking ways and fit an enormous amount of information into a short time. Dave’s presentation goes from humorous to serious as he compares the “Harry Potter” series to “Star Wars,” recites a silly Dr. Seuss poem and then features a quote by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
After his presentation, the upper grades broke into workshops where they warmed up by writing a description of an emotion without using the actual word. This activity was met with silent writing and a few giggles; the end results were hilarious and deeply thought out. The kids then showed off their acting skills during a game of charades, in which they acted out an emotion without talking. It was all going well until the word “constipation” stumped some.
The kids then chose a picture from Dave’s assortment of strange photos and wrote a paragraph or two that had a “hook” at the beginning to grab a reader’s attention. These kids were so quiet and writing so seriously that all you could hear was the tapping of pencils on their papers. Their hooks were very impressive and left all of us wanting more.
The younger students were treated to Dave’s exuberant charms as he taught them about alliteration and onomatopoeia. He asked them to choose a letter and write a verse using that letter to start each word. “Yami Yogurt yaps and yells at yellow yoyos,” was a sample they did together. Dave then asked them describe him using simile. They came up with descriptions such as, “His beard is as gray as an old nickel” and “He is as cool as Antarctica.”
Among the many classroom projects displayed were posters by Woodland six graders that were peppered with Post-it notes asking questions about the “Posted” characters and Dave’s life. He answered almost all of them during the day. One question was about Rose, Dave’s favorite character in the book: “Why did she only make fish out of origami?” Dave’s answer, “Because she is awesome, she doesn’t get pigeonholed.”
At Princeton, the hallway was filled with student work that tied into Dave’s book. There were Robert Frost poetry studies, a 3D poster depicting scenes from the book, a periodic table made from Post-it notes and a photograph of everyone celebrating Frost’s birthday with food that the characters in “Posted” liked to eat. It looked like they had a blast!
You know it has been a productive visit when at the end of the day a student says, “I want to be a writer when I grow up!”