Author presents book at Cedar Mountain school

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  • PHOTOS BY VERA OLINSKIIn back of school personnel, Sarah Williamson draws the students' ideas in the computer.

  • A Kindergarten class poses with author and illustrator Sarah Williamson, kneeling in back row.

  • Author and illustrator Sarah Williamson autographs her book.

  • The Cedar Mountain Kindergarten class listens attentively.

VERNON — New York Times Freelance Art Director, author, and illustrator Sarah Williamson presented her latest book, “Where are you?” on April 13 to the Kindergarten and first grade Cedar Mountain Primary School students.

“Where are you?” is a children's book about a green worm searching for a pink worm in a park. Williamson explained, her book uses prepositions to drive the narrative, teaching children concepts of: under, over, in, and above, as a teaching tool. She also commented, she uses very simple shapes, colors, and all kinds of different animals in her illustrations.

Media Specialist Benjamin Joseph introduced the “special visitor - a real live author and illustrator,” who would talk about what goes into writing stories and making illustrations. He reminded the students how they, too, are authors and illustrators, shrinking down their big story ideas to a small moment. [Cedar Mountain students are learning about “small moments” in their Reading/Writing Workshop curriculum.

Williamson read pages of her book and also taught drawing steps. She said, first she draws the character, names him/her, adds accessories, and decides what the character should do. Williamson explained, she gets her ideas by drawing.

After she draws, Williamson said, she writes - first in her sketch book and then in the computer. Williamson showed how she went from a black and white pencil sketch, submitted to her publisher, to the painted version of Elevator Bird, who works in the elevator of an animal hotel. The assembly students gasped, “Wow!” when she showed her finished illustration.

Students were very excited as Williamson allowed them to participate in ideas for dressing and accessorizing a bird, while she drew their ideas on a computer. They then saw their bird come to life on the screen, dressed in a blue dress, one red high heel, one purple, walking down a road past an apple tree, with a yellow star in the sky.

A student asked Williamson, “How did you get your ideas for this book?” She answered, Tutu the Turtle, from her earlier book, liked eating brown worm cupcakes. Later, she continued, the pink and green worms surfaced in her imagination, and she started developing scenes where the green one was looking for the pink one in various locations.

Another student asked, what her favorite childhood books were? Williamson said, she liked Richard Scarry's books, including “Cars and Trucks and Things that Go.”

One child asked if she had any pets. She does not have any pets, Williamson said, but her mom has two dogs.

Another child asked, “How did you draw the lady bug and the bee in the book?”

Williamson responded, she used water color paint and started first with the body, then eye and dots — for the ladybug — and drew wings for the bee.

At the end of the assembly, Principal Rosemary Gebhardt encouraged the students to notice Williamson's display of animal characters, painted on balsa wood, as they left the gym.

This year, Gebhardt later said, they wanted the students to meet authors, in order to connect to the curriculum in every way. She concluded, “It's a great message for the kids - I can do that.”

Sparta Books Events Manager Melinda Kemper explained, she brings many authors to schools — a great way to give back to the community. In addition, she said, they give the children an opportunity to purchase the book, and the author/illustrator personalizes it to the kids.

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