Student Art from Shiloh Christian School – Spring 2012

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My Visit to Shiloh Christian School January 25, 2012

Shiloh’s Librarian, Melissa Merrifield (left) and Tammy (right).

On January 25, 2012 I spoke to all the students in Kindergarten through 5th grade at Shiloh Christian School in Springdale, Arkansas. This was a special visit because Shiloh is a local Arkansas school, and I’ve visited them twice before: first on March 11, 2002 and again on February 26, 2004. Mrs. Merrifield has been the librarian at Shiloh for many years, and we are grateful that she has invited us to her school three times!

Shiloh Kindergarten Hallway

8:30 – 9:00 Kindergarten
9:15 – 10:00 2nd Grade
10:15- 11:00 3rd Grade
12:00- 12:30 1st Grade
12:45- 1:30 4th Grade
1:45 – 2:30 5th Grade

After our last visit, nearly every student in the school sent us thank you notes. They arrived in a large box.

I read ALL of my fan mail. I keep my fan mail, but there is so much that most of it is stored in a drawer. I loved the letter pictured below so much that I keep it on the shelf in my office (right above my computer) where I can see it everyday.

Mrs. Merrifield was kind enough to include a note that interpreted the letter. It reads:

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Dear Mr. and Mrs. Bronson,

I love your books. I think your next book will be a big success. Remember never give up. Be courageous even if there’s pressure…Just close your eyes and pray. No matter what happens, you can never give up on your goal.

From Quinn

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With all my heart, thank you, Quinn! Your message means the world to me. I will treasure your excellent advice.

A Fun Morning at Hope Sullivan Elementary, Southaven, MS

My author visit at Hope Sullivan Elementary on Friday, January 20, 2012 was a great success! This was my first visit to Southaven, Mississippi, and I spoke to over 630 students in three presentations.

9:00 – 9:30  Kindergarten

9:40 – 10:10   1st Grade

10:20 – 11:05 2nd Grade

From left to right: Amanda Samples (Principal), Tammy, Terri McCain (Librarian), and Lisa Nye (Asst Principal).

The faculty and staff were very involved on every level. The principal, assistant principal, and librarian encouraged students to participate, and they did! Their enthusiasm was uplifting, and I did not leave empty-handed. A teacher, Jan Hoselton, presented me with art created by her kindergarten students.

Tiny Snail book covers created by kindergarten children at Hope Sullivan Elementary.

Thank you, Ms. Hoselton, for giving me their wonderful pictures. Here are a few of my favorites…

Mikaela loves Tiny Snail. I love her picture (above).

Logan combined my name with Tiny Snail’s (above). ‘Tamy Snail’ has a nice ring to it!

I also love AJ’s Tiny Snail. He even drew a colorful version of Miss Butterfly (below).

Hope Sullivan students, keep writing and drawing!

POLLIWOG inspires sisters to create a book at Farragut Primary in Knoxville, TN

I spent the day at Farragut Primary in Knoxville, Tennessee, on January 19th, 2012.

Farragut Primary's Librarian, Wendi Lesmerises (left), Tammy Bronson (middle), and Matthew Bronson (right).

With over one thousand Kindergarten through 2nd grade students at this school, the librarian and teachers did an outstanding job sharing my stories with all the children prior to our visit.

Farragut Primary's Gym

We needed a very large space to accommodate five classes at a time (~150 students), so we set up in the school’s gym.

8:00-8:30  (Kindergarten) 5 classes

8:40 – 9:10  (Kindergarten) 5 classes

9:20 – 9:50  (Kindergarten, 1st grade) 5 classes

10 – 10:30  (1st , 2nd grades) 5 classes

10:40 – 11:10 (1st grade) 5 classes

11:20 – 11:50 (1st , 2nd grades) 5 classes

Lunch Noon – 1 PM

1:10 – 1:40 (2nd grade) 4 classes

1:50 – 2:20 (1st , 2nd grades) 6 classes

My program is designed to inspire children to create their own picture books. Generally kids make their own book after my visit, but at Farragut Primary two sisters combined their talents to create their own book prior to my arrival.

Tammy (left) with author Abigail King (middle) and her teacher, Katie Wheeler (right).

The author, Abigail King (2nd grade), said that my book, Polliwog, inspired her story entitled, Lilly Pad the Tadpole. Her sister, Jessica King, illustrated their story.

Lilly Pad the Tadpole, a picture book by Abigail and Jessica King at Farragut Primary.

Many thanks to the King sisters and Abigail’s teacher, Ms. Wheeler, for giving me this imaginitive story. I’m glad Lilly Pad learned to swim!

Read Abigail’s book, Lilly Pad the Tadpole (PDF).

A Kaleidonotes Study Guide for Music Class

My second picture book, The Kaleidonotes & the Mixed Up Orchestra, is often used by instructors to teach children the instruments of the orchestra and where they sit on stage.

Interesting Facts About the Book

The number seven is repeated several times in this book.

There are seven characters, and each name begins with one of the seven notes in the musical scale: Amos, Bo, Cloe, Dax, Echo, Finn, Gigi.

There are also seven colors represented (one for each character): red (Finn), orange (Gigi), yellow (Cloe), green (Amos), blue (Bo), indigo (Dax), violet (Echo).

The book’s themes include cooperation and teamwork.

Map illustrating where instrument groups are usually positioned on stage in the orchestra.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Why do the notes face the wrong direction?

The notes have popped off the page and are three dimensional! When they interact with the instruments of the orchestra, sometimes they turn and face another direction.

Why are the notes not black?

Rather than color each note various shades of black, I decided to make the book more colorful by assigning a color to each note. Since there are seven notes, it made sense to use the seven colors of the rainbow.

Where did the name ‘Kaleidonotes’ come from?

‘Kalos’ is Greek for ‘beautiful’, and ‘eidos’ is Greek for ‘form’. So the name ‘Kaleidonotes’ means ‘beautifully formed’ notes! At the time we made the book (2000-2001), we enjoyed creating a new, unusual word.

Why is the viola not included in the orchestra?

The violin and viola looked so similar in my illustrations that we decided to leave the viola out so we could create a second book called: The Kaleidonotes & the Vanishing Violas. That story explores the differences between a violin and viola, and it explains why the viola is so important to the orchestra. The second book is still not published because we are debating whether or not to redesign the size and shape of the books as a series. With the increasing popularity of e-books, we are even considering publishing as e-books and possibly creating interactive Apps for iPad or the iPhone.

MATCHING GAME ACTIVITY

Click on the image to view full size then download and/or print.

Print the page above and below. Color and cut out the instruments and place them in their appropriate place on stage on the orchestra map. Both images were designed to print ‘landscape’ (11 x 8.5 inches), but you may want to enlarge the map on bigger paper (17 x 11)  to accommodate the larger instruments.

Click on the image to view full size then download and/or print.

My Visit to Crockett Elementary, January 18, 2012

I visited Crockett Elementary in Franklin, Tennessee on January 18th. They have over 640 students in pre-k through 5th grade, so I set up in the gym where I spoke to one grade level at a time.

Tammy (left) and Crockett's Librarian, Julia Andrews (right).

The librarian, Julia Andrews, prepared the students for my visit, introduced me at the assemblies, and provided me with lunch. I really enjoyed her tour of their amazing library.

Crockett Library's Reading Nook with Puppets

Many of the books are organized by topic. Books in a series have their own shelf. So do the “Princess” books!

Ms. Andrews and her shelf filled with "Princess" Books.

Ms. Andrews painted the walls to look like a castle.

Mural at Crockett Elementary

The murals were painted by another artist, but Ms. Andrews designed each mural with a variety of characters from beloved books.

Another Mural at Crockett Elementary

Thank you Crockett Elementary for a great day! I look forward to my next trip to Franklin, Tennessee.

Schedule:

8:50 – 9:35       Kindergarten and Pre-K
9:40 – 10:25      First Grade
10:30 – 11:15      Third Grade
11: 15 – 12:15      Author’s Lunch
12:15 – 1:15       Fourth Grade
1:20 – 2:05        Second Grade
2:10 – 3:10       Fifth Grade

I love this article about public speaking as a writer. When I first embarked on my speaking career, I was terrified. Standing in front of large groups of children numbering between 100, 200, or even 300 children was daunting, but now, eleven years later, it’s second nature to me. I don’t even think about it. I feel right at home in front of large groups of kids. Small groups of adults…that’s a different story!

Susan Kiernan-LEWIS

There is a skill set that, when mastered, will not only help you reap significantly better results in book sales over the long haul, but will vastly increase your self concept and confidence and is something that fewer than .05% of the population can do.

Not only can they not do it, but the majority of them would rather die than try.

Wow.

It’s easy to see that you would have a serious leg up on everybody if you could join that .05% group.

I am talking of course about public speaking.

As a writer, it is possible that the percentages of comfortable, accomplished speakers in your group are even smaller than .05%. Writers tend to be shy types, happy to hole up in remote cabins and drafty guestrooms, turning down social invitations in favor of a laptop and a bottomless cup of coffee. Which makes the benefits that much…

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Art and Questions by 4th Graders at Nolan Elementary

Mrs. Daniel’s 4th grade class at Nolan Elementary (Signal Mountain, Tennessee) gave me a wonderful set of pictures based on my books. Here is a sample of their work and answers to their questions.

Keegan drew the above picture of Sea Horse. His question on the back of the picture reads: “How did sea horse hear coral, a plant, singing to him?”

Great question, Keegan! Coral is not a plant. Coral looks like a plant, but she is actually a group of tiny animals. A choir or chorus is an organized group of singers, and since Coral is an organized cluster of tiny animals, I thought she ought to sing like a choir.

Learn more about why Coral sings in the story by reading Coral as Greek Chorus. You can also visit my other blog (seahorserun.com) or click on a question or link below to learn more about corals:

What is a coral polyp?
How do polyps eat?
How are corals named?
Why are corals important to sea horses?
Do coral polyps have eyes?

Preslee likes my jellyfish. I like Preslee’s jellies (above), too!

Nick also drew jellies (above). Nick asks, “Why did you pick jellyfish for the dedication page?”

Jellyfish can be a symbol for acceptance, so the appearance of jellyfish before the story even begins foreshadows or predicts that acceptance will be an important theme in the story. The poor Sea Dragon is misunderstood! Sea Horse learns to ignore gossip and accept Sea Dragon for who he really is.

Mae Mae says, “I love that you write about animals.” I love Mae Mae’s snail (above).

Emily asks, “How did a snail (or snails) inspire you to make TINY SNAIL?”

Scroll down for the answer (after the next picture).

Emily’s question is popular because Connor also wants to know, “Why did you pick a snail to be the subject of your story?”

I chose a snail because I wanted to write a story about perseverance which means continuing toward your goal even when you’re discouraged or experiencing hardship. Snails are a symbol of perseverance, and since I didn’t see many books about snails, I knew TINY SNAIL would be a great book!

Sara likes the characters in POLLIWOG so she drew them (above).

Jackson’s picture says, “I really like how you use the details in your drawings.” Jackson, I love your details, too! Your use of line and color is wonderful. I like how you filled in the water with blue lines and  divided the water from the sky. This is a great picture.

Jack wants to know, “Why did Polliwog not like his legs?”

Polliwog was born a tadpole without legs. She used her tail to swim, and when she suddenly grew legs, she didn’t know what they were for. Her new legs scared her. Why would she need legs? Of course she would need them when she left the pond, but remember, Polliwog did not want to leave the pond. She wanted to stay in the pond forever.

__________________

Many thanks to Mrs. Daniel’s 4th grade language arts class for drawing such wonderful pictures and asking great questions. I’m so glad you enjoyed the stories!

A Visit to Nolan Elementary in Signal Mountain, TN

My visit to Nolan Elementary on Tuesday, 17 January 2012, was a great success thanks to PTA member Melissa Barrett. A former teacher, Melissa is the Classroom Enrichment Chair for Nolan PTA, and she did a fabulous job preparing teachers and students for our visit.

Melissa Barrett, PTA (left) and Tammy.

Home of the Knights, Nolan Elementary has an enrollment of approximately 679 students in grades K-5. Perched atop Signal Mountain outside Chattanooga, Tennessee, the school’s picturesque setting is surely an inspiration for both students and staff.

Mosaic art by Nolan students in the auditorium windows.

The halls and windows inside the school are covered with murals and student art.

A reading nook near the Nolan office.

Nolan Elementary

K & 1st grades: 9:10 – 9:50

2nd & 3rd grades: 10 – 10:45

4th & 5th grades: 10:55 – 11:45

We had a great time speaking with grades K-5 about writing, illustrating and publishing children’s books. Thank you Nolan PTA for inviting us to your school!

More Links:

Hamilton County Schools

Last Author Visits of 2011

I was on the verge of posting about my first 2012 author visit when I realized I still needed to publish  about my final visits in 2011. Here is an overview of my last trip to Atlanta, Georgia.

My adventure began Monday, November 14, 2011 at…

Ocee Elementary
4375 Kimball Bridge Road
Alpharetta, GA  30022

I spoke to the children from the stage in the cafeteria. About 200 students attended each program.

8:00  Pre-K and Kindergarten

9:00  1st and 2nd grades

PTA member Jeannie Fisher (right) with Tammy (left) at Ocee Elementary, home of the otters!

Tuesday, November 15, I spent the day with Jennifer Rice in her library at…

Macedonia Elementary
10370 East Cherokee Drive
Canton, GA 30115

Each group had about 80 students.

8:15-8:55 Third Grade
9:00- 9:40 First Grade
9:45- 10:20 Kindergarten
10:25-11:05 Second Grade
11:10-11:40- Lunch
11:45-12:15 Fourth Grade
12:20-1:00 Fifth Grade
1:15-1:45 Book Signing

The librarian, Jennifer Rice (right), did a fabulous job preparing students for our visit.

My last author visit in 2011 was on Wednesday, November 16 at…

Greater Atlanta Christian School
1575 Indian Trail Rd
Norcross, GA  30093

My husband and co-author of KALEIDONOTES in the GACS library.

8:20-9:00           Third Grade
9:20-10:55          Kindergarden/First Grade
10:15-11:00         Fourth Grade
11:00-12:00        Lunch
12:00-12:45         Second Grade
1:00-1:45             Fifth Grade

We were right at home in their lovely library. The librarians, Allison Anderson and Renee Arnold, were very excited about our visit. Their enthusiasm for our books prior to our arrival prepared the students who were fully engaged and asked great questions.

From left to right: Allison Anderson, Tammy Bronson, Renee Arnold.

A 2nd grade teacher, Crystal Rush,  taught in Conway, Arkansas before moving to Norcross. She fondly recalled my author visit to Marguerite Vann Elementary on March 5, 2010. It’s a small world! I remember my visit to that school because a kindergarten student sent me a watercolor painting he did from my Polliwog book. It was such an amazing picture, I framed it. It still hangs in my office.

Although I often hear, “This is the best author visit we’ve ever had,” very few teachers find the time to put that in writing. My heartfelt thanks to Ms. Cherry at Greater Atlanta Christian School for taking time out of her busy schedule to post my favorite author visit review of 2011:

“Mrs. Bronson, Thank you for visiting Greater Atlanta Christian School in Norcross, GA today. I just have to tell you, that after listening to 15 years of author visits, your presentation was by far the best I have ever heard! My 4th graders greatly enjoyed your talk, learned, and were inspired to try writing their own picture book. I appreciated all of the aspects of being an author that brought to life as well as the from start to finish of the book. Learning how the books are actually put together was something that I do not think any author has ever presented. Your use of technology and explaining how you use Photoshop was also very helpful since the children are comfortable with that program. You and your husband presented a lively and informative author talk and I am thankful for your visit!”

Responses like this encourage me to continue traveling and inspiring children to be readers, writers, and lifelong supporters of the library. I am grateful for any feedback, but this was a big boost that helped me get off on the right foot in the new year. A fond farewell to 2011. Hello, 2012!