"It was a tremendous day," exclaims Librarian Christine McDaniels referring to virtual visits by Illustrator/Author duo Robbi Behr and Matthew Swanson
to Primary School students on April 1.
In their visit with Kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd graders, they debuted their newest picture book, Sunrise Summer.
Using photos from Robbi's childhood and photos from Robbi and Mathew's family (of six!), the book chronicles their daughter's summers on the Alaskan tundra as she worked to become a member of their salmon fishing crew. Third and 4th graders heard passages from the first book in the pair’s Cookie Chronicles series, Ben Yokoyama and the Cookie of Doom,
warning not to take proverbs too literally. Robbi then led students in a drawing activity. Following Robbi's step-by-step instructions, older children drew the Cookie Chronicles dog character, and younger children drew grizzly bears often seen in Alaska, especially during the sockeye salmon season.
Students were delighted when they discovered they could take copies of the books home, thanks to a generous donation from the Hamilton Harrison family. Christine described the program as "full of humor, insight, and delightful anecdotes."
Following the visits, 3rd and 4th grade teachers said their students were so eager to get creative that they had to shift their schedules to allow students more time for writing and drawing. "Don't think, just write," students said, lending encouragement to classmates. Fourth graders in Adam's class, inspired by Matthew and Robbi's lessons about proverbs, wrote some of their own:
- A journey of a thousand miles will take you to space if you aren't careful!
- Meaning: pay attention, so you don't get lost.
- A leopard can't jump as high as a skyscraper, but a bug can climb all the way up.
- Meaning: being small doesn't make you incapable.
- A penny saved is just like all the other pennies you saved.
- Meaning: don't get obsessed with money.
Reflecting on the experience, 4th graders in Lydia's class shared why they thought it was important to have authors and illustrators visit the classroom. "It gives you a chance to learn from them and learn how they became authors," one student said. Third grade teachers noticed children repeating words of wisdom to their classmates throughout the day. One third grader even declared, "They inspired me to write a book!" Learn more about Robbi and Matthew here.