I love our local bookshop, Avid Bookshop. Over the summer, they contacted me about a possible author visit prior to the Decatur Book Festival. This book festival brings in some of the top authors from around the world for 2 days of book celebrations. This festival is actually connecting us with 2 authors in the 1st three weeks of school since they will already be in Georgia!
Today, thanks to Avid, Gennifer Choldenko visited our 4th and 5th graders. Gennifer is the Newbery Honor award-winning author of the Al Capone series, Notes from a Liar and Her Dog, No Passengers Beyond this Point, and more. Before her visit, I held a session for all 4th and 5th graders to get familiar with her books as well as the book of our other visiting author, Barbara Walsh. I used two different Blendspace (formally Edcanvas) links to share excerpts from books, book trailers, and biographies of the authors. Students also had an opportunity to pre-order books for signing.
During her talk, Gennifer talked about:
- her inspiration for the Al Capone books from her time as a docent on Alcatraz
- her research of looking at the most notorious prisoners to see who would be the most fun character
- details of what she learned about Al Capone while he was a prisoner. Her photos of his prison experience with antique furniture was amazing!
- photographs of convicts doing laundry on Alcatraz and how that came into her books
- cockroaches helping to make exchanges between prisoners
- convicts coming to brunch at her house and sharing their stories
- how she keeps a notebook with her ideas, including kids’ names
- how she writes other books in between the Alcatraz books
- going to Alcatraz Alumni Day
- what historical fiction is…..like can you include an iPhone in a story set on Alcatraz?
- how many books she is in the process of writing. She’s a busy person!
- And so much more
As always, the kids left this session pumped up about reading an author’s books. I have no doubt that kids will be knocking on the door in the morning to get these stories. I can’t thank Avid Bookshop enough for making this visit happen for us and for Chase Street Elementary. Bringing in authors is always inspiring, but it’s also very expensive. Having the support and connections of our local bookshop is fantastic! Also, a huge thank you to Gennifer Choldenko for sharing her time and talents with our students. They were so engaged and probably could have asked questions for another hour.