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The Gordon School

A good book on a rainy day

It was too rainy for outdoor recess today.

First graders stayed inside and built creatures.

Clumps of LEGOs were forged into horses and “echolocation robots.”

In one corner, an aspiring author wrote a book about the platypus and the octopus.

Animals were on their minds, for very good reason.

They had just spent an hour hearing from Robin Page and Steve Jenkins, authors and illustrators who have collaborated on sixteen children’s books.

They are Gordon's tenth annual Karla Harry Visiting Authors, on campus working with students through Friday.

Natural science is the focus of much of their work, with lively (and often life-sized) depictions of the animal world. 

Students had worked hard preparing for the visit.

Third graders drew on Jenkins and Page’s subject matter to make animal mobiles.

Fifth graders borrowed one of their narrative strategies for “How to be a fifth grader.”

Students in the after school programs used their cut-paper techniques to create this welcome sign.

Today, a second grade class got a hands-on master class with Page and Jenkins.

The authors walked them through the process of creating a page in a book.

The cut paper looks effortless.

It takes a lot of planning and repetition to make it look that way.

And the hardest part is the first part: researching the facts and choosing the source materials.

These second graders understood.

They had been working on books of their own.

Each had researched an animal and its habitat, and chosen one feature of the animal to highlight.

(The assignment was an echo of Jenkins’ book What do you do with a tail like this?).

After Jenkins and Page had presented their work, the students talked about theirs.

Each presented their work to all of the adults in the room.

For the librarians, it was an opportunity to see their work come to life in the art studio.

For the classroom teacher, it was a chance to see the students explain their work to fresh faces.

And for the students, it was an affirmation of what they were learning in Gordon’s classrooms.

The tools and techniques they were using, it turned out, were the same ones that career professionals used.

What’s more, these professionals were taking them seriously, as fellow scientists, authors, and artists.

Steve Jenkins and Robin Page will be signing books at the GCA Book Fair Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, 3:20-5pm.

Steve Jenkins illustrated Vulture View, written by April Pulley Sayre, the fifth Karla Harry Visiting Author. Some third graders (now in Gordon’s eighth grade) adapted the book for shadow puppets in preparation for her visit. Revisit the video from 2011.

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