lessons by talking about personal experiences during the long road to
Sponsored by the Assistance League of Glendale, authors Alexis
O'Neil and Ann Whitford Paul and illustrators Kathryn Hewiit and
Meredith Johnson spent all day at the school giving 45-minute
presentations to classrooms about where they get their ideas and how
they turn those ideas into stories and pictures. They also shared
anecdotes about creating children's books.
Students learned that even published authors have trouble
"I let this story cook in my brain for seven years before I wrote
it," O'Neil said of her book, "The Recess Queen," about a school
bully befriended by a new student, to Rosine Simitian's second-grade
Simitian's class prepared for O'Neil's presentation by reading
several of her books before her visit.
Using an overhead projector, O'Neil showed students a copy of her
first rough draft for the story. The projection showed sentences
crossed out with lines and others circled, along with words replaced
several times and notes scribbled in the margins.
"How many of you have to write a draft of a story before turning
in to your teacher?" she asked students. Many raised their hands.
In Kate Hurley's fourth-grade class, Johnson told students about
her work as an illustrator for books such as "When I Learned to
Read," "The Bathwater Gang" and "Baseball Fever."
Johnson held up photos of her children when they were young and of
her dog, Dodger. She then showed students pages from the books she
illustrated, and the students identified Johnson's family in the
"I get my ideas for pictures from the people around me," she said
after telling students about how she got the idea for a character
from her son after he knocked out three of his front teeth one day.
The students were impressed with the preparation required for the
"Being an illustrator takes a lot of work and planning. You have
to get a lot of information before starting," fourth-grader Alex
The Assistance League sponsors the event four or five times a year
at different schools in Glendale.
"Our goal is to help children understand and love books, and to
enjoy reading, writing and illustrating. We want to open them to the
world of books," league member Donna Ziel said.