I really couldn’t decide if I should use that title or Mary Casanova–She’s SOME Author, but either way, we were super lucky to have some time with author Mary Casanova last week.
(picture from http://www.marycasanova.com)
I don’t know how I hadn’t heard of her before recently, she’s written over 30 books, and have been nominated for many awards–including Show-Me Reader Awards right here in MO! Some of our favorites of hers that you might know (and that inspired the post titles) are:
We’ve had many other awesome authors and poets visit Robinson over the 15 years I’ve been here, like Lisa Campbell Ernst (she’s actually been here twice in my tenure!), Douglas Florian, Kristen O’Connell George, John Reynolds Gardiner and Eric Kimmel to name a few. There really is nothing better than listening to a real, published author talk about what they do and how they feed their soul (and their writer’s notebooks!) so they have things to write about. If you’ve been around here for even a little bit, it’s no secret that I would love to be included in that list of names someday.
Before she came, our fabulous librarian helped us share her books with our kiddos, and she did a little author study about Mary’s life and home in Minnesota. They even made a bulletin board to welcome her, with a canoe filled with at least a hundred animals you would find living near her home in the North:
When she came, she did such a GREAT job of keeping our kids engaged and learning, including them in her presentation by having them do voices and parts of the books she read to us. As she read a favorite, Some Dog, to us, the boys played George (loyal basset hound), and the girls played the part of Zippity (energetic new addition to the family):
You could definitely tell that Ms. Casanova has experience speaking with young audiences by the level of engagement in the room. I had to take a picture at one point that probably says it all. She had them on the edge of their seats (er..carpet spots):
Besides reading some of her books, she told us about where she lives in Minnesota, and gave lots of great advice about being a writer. She said something that I’ve heard most every author say, but that is super hard to get kids to believe sometimes: the best ideas for stories come from your life and what’s going on around you. She told us about how most of her stories were based on things that had happened to her, people (or animals) that she knows, experiences she’s had, things she’d wondered or thought about. Somehow, though, I find myself trying to convince a roomful of kid writers every year that the stories you share don’t have to be epic, grand or splashy–they just have to matter to you. What you ate for breakfast, the scene you saw outside your bus window on the way to school or something funny that your brother did to you last night can all be the basis for a great piece of writing. Someday they’ll believe me, right? Help me continue to spread the message, will you? Oh, and help me remind them that the way to be a better writer is to write. 🙂
Then lastly, as if she hadn’t already been great enough, she had one more piece of amazingness up her sleeve: she let us act out One-Dog Canoe with puppets, an oar and a giant canoe she had brought with her! What fun! The best part? Our friend Landen got to play the bear! He rocked it, let me tell ya. 🙂