Sunday, July 11, 2010

A little help from my friends redux

Here I am, showing the journal with the original watercolor and the page from The Robin Makes A Laughing Sound: A Birder's Journal where the image was included. (Thank you Patricia J. Murphy for taking photos during my workshop.)

It is really fun to share my book and the journals that inspired it with budding writers and artists. Yesterday I presented a journal-making workshop for school-aged children at the Book Stall at Chestnut Court, in Winnetka, IL. The Book Stall is one of the premiere independent bookstores in the Chicago area and I was thrilled to be a part of their exciting calendar of events. We had great turnout--about as many kids as I could handle in one workshop. And they were great kids. We bound 32 page journals using wallpaper for covers and raffia for the 3-hold pamphlet stitch binding.

Then we talked about what to do in a journal. The very first thing, I said, is put your name in it. I lost a journal once and I still am in mourning for it.

Another suggestion I had is to begin each entry in the same way. For instance, I begin each of my journal entries by writing out, by hand, the day, date, place, time, and weather--"Saturday, July 10, 2010, Oak Park, c. 7:25 am, another gorgeous summer day." My pen is moving, I've written almost two lines, and I haven't had to think yet. Then, I told them, I usually write about what I did the day before, what I intend to do today, what I'm reading, what I'm working on or thinking about. Ideas for a new book. Anything that comes to mind.

I also like to draw in my journals. We talked about how to draw anything using a very basic "vocabulary" of straight and curved lines, geometric shapes, and letter shapes. As I demonstrated this drawing vocabulary, the children practiced in their journals. We tried drawing cubes three different ways--one way that I suggested and two that came from the kids.

These journals are also great places to glue in scrapbook items--ticket stubs, cards, photos, decorative papers and wrappers. My own journals are filled with writing, drawing, and collage.

And lastly we learned to draw birds three different ways. By the end of the workshop the kids had a good start on working in their journals.

The cost of the workshop was the price of one book. I felt like a real star with a line of 10 or 12 kids waiting for me to autograph their books. And the name tags that the children were wearing helped me to spell their names and be able to address them by name. The ages of the children ranged from going into first grade up to going into fifth grade--perfect for this workshop.

Bev Patt stopped by to wish me luck. Robert McDonald, who coordinated the event for the Book Stall and another Book Stall staffer provided helping hands for guiding the children through the steps of folding papers, punching holes, and stitching the binding. And Debbie Topolski, who is a fellow SCBWI-Illinois member and great friend, provided invaluable support and assistance, as driver, as assistant in setup and take down, and as sidekick and backup. Patricia J. Murphy has a blog entry about how SCBWI members can help each other. This workshop was a great example of that support.

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