Thursday, June 6, 2013

Squealing for Squish!! a great author visit from Jennifer Holm

Emerson students were thrilled this week to meet the author of one of their favorite series. Jennifer L. Holm writes two fantastic series of graphic novels, Babymouse and Squish, both of which are illustrated by her brother Matt. Jenni shared great insights into how she and Matt make comics, encouraged kids and teachers to create their own stories, and answered great questions from the kids.

Jenni took students back to the beginning, when she was a kid growing up with five brothers. She had our students giggling as they saw pictures of her and Matt as little kids. Their dad was a big comic book fan and they all read lots of comics - from Charlie Brown and Calvin & Hobbes, to superhero comics like Batman, Superman and Spiderman.

Jenni, Ny'Aja and Cody doing a great reader's theater
One kid asked what inspired her to be a writer, and Jenni talked about how she loved to read as a kid. Even if they went to an amusement park, she always brought a book. Matt, on the other hand, was always a doodler. By the time he was in 5th grade, he wrote his own four panel comic about aliens.

Bookmarks made by our students
My students love the blend of fantasy and realistic humor in both Babymouse and Squish. They can relate to Babymouse's bad whisker days (I mean, who hasn't had a bad hair day?!) and trouble with mean girl Felicia Furrypaws. They connect to everyman Squish, the boy (I mean amoeba) next door. And they really like the way each story has a moral or message in it, with a satisfying ending.
As Jenni got the kids to help her create a new scene for Babymouse (we loved the Ninja Babymouse and giggled at the WonderMouse!), she helped the kids really see how revision works in real life. They saw that her first attempt didn't quite work and she talked about how long it takes to write and revise a comic book. She shared with us how she writes the storyboard with the action and dialog, and then Matt starts drawing the characters. It's a very interesting back-and-forth creative process.
Jenni, Jeriyah and Ms. Snyder
I was thrilled that many of our students in 3rd and 4th grade shared their love of Penny in Heaven, Turtle in Paradise and The Trouble with May Amelia, Jenni's historical fiction. Both come from her research into different sides of her family history.

My students and I loved kicking off our summer reading drive this week with such a great visit. Jenni was funny, inspiring and a joy to have. We laughed, we celebrated our love of reading, we all squealed for Squish! Thank you!!

©2013 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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