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Graphic Guise: Kids Interact with Graphic Novel Authors

August 26, 2011

Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending an event in Los Angeles called Graphic Guise: Books Undercover, hosted by Bridge to Books, an organization that aims to connect kids and reading in fun, creative ways. This particular event was geared toward 7-12 year old children, and featured graphic novel author/illustrators Dan Santat, Bob Boyle (Random House author of Hugo and the Really, Really, Really Long String), Kazu Kibuishi, and James Burks.

The event was structured so that kids were in one room, an enormous art studio, while parents and teachers were in a smaller room, learning more about the authors and how to use graphic novels with their own kids and students to spark interest in reading. While they learned, the kids were creating their own illustrated books, and then mingling with the authors, who rotated between the tables. The authors were very interactive, drawing with the kids, prompting them with ideas to get started on their own artwork, sharing secret sneak peeks of upcoming work, and signing books and art for the rapt crowd. Indie bookseller Once Upon a Time aptly handled the book sales so that the kids could add to their graphic novel libraries, and Bridge to Books also provided each child with a goodie bag full of galleys, posters, bookmarks and more!

The kids seemed thrilled with the event and the authors also seemed happy to be not simply signing but talking with and learning from their young fans. I’m happy to get to work with this fantastic organization again at the end of October when they plan to co-host an event with children’s bookseller Mrs. Nelson’s Toy and Book Shop called The Why Chromosome: Why Boys Do Love Books, which will feature books and authors geared specifically to boy readers. Stay tuned!

{Creating words out of the letters in their names}

{One of the younger children’s art}

{Kazu Kibiushi was a hit with the kids, especially when he shared upcoming art on his iPad}

{Picture book author and animator Bob Boyle with the kids}

{Alyson shares “ground rules” with the very excited kids}


Here’s what author Bob Boyle had to say about the event:

Being a part of the Graphic Guise event was great for so many reasons. Chatting it up with book loving educators, librarians, and parents. Swapping stories with fellow author/illustrators. Eating yummy Rice Krispy treats. Doodling on the paper covered tables.

But the best part was being able to work with the kids. I was able to show them my process and then help them to develop their own characters and stories. They had no shortage of energy and imagination. 

The most interesting thing for me was seeing how the ideas differed between the boys and girls. Whenever I asked a girl what her story was about, she would inevitably    describe a cat, horse, panda (or some other cute critter) who was either lost or looking for something. And when I asked a boy what his story was, he’d start rambling on excitedly about dragons, zombies, and laser swords. The difference between boys and girls isn’t surprising, but seeing it play out so definitively as the kids created their stories was an interesting reminder. It also reassured me that my new graphic novel called ‘Panda Quest: Battle of The Dragon Zombies’ will be a hit with both boys and girls!

And check out the awesome illustration Bob made to go along with his thoughts:

Have you attended or hosted an unconventional book or author event? We’d love to hear more about it! Please share in the comments below.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. August 26, 2011 11:29 am

    What a wonderful event! My son would have loved this! He couldn’t get enough of those “How to Draw” books when he was young.

  2. August 28, 2011 10:58 am

    Thanks Erin for coming and for being a part of things. This is a great post.

  3. August 28, 2011 9:08 pm

    Great to meet you there, Erin! You captured it so well.

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