My time at the Virginia Festival of the Book started with a Friday afternoon school visit to the Wildcats of Walton Middle. I was the only thing standing between at least a hundred sixth-graders and their weekend. Good thing I had prepared an action-filled presentation:
It was my first time giving this new talk, so of course, I learned a few things.
1) Always give out pencils for participation and correct answers. I started this on a whim, when one bright kid could identify the F-15C in this picture from only the twin tails in the background of the bottom right photo in this slide:
I also gave out pencils to those kids who helped me act out the rowing/jody call scene from Operation Yes, which culminated in the entire amphitheater yelling at me to:
I did give them ten, of course, much to the back row's astonishment (several of them stood up to see.)
In any case, pencils seemed a small thank you to those sixth-graders who were willing to play along.
2) Make sure your slides are in order. I had two slides of the jody call switched, which threw one part of my jody call rhyme off. I wish my lovely proofreaders from Arthur Levine Books could've helped me with my slides! Ah, well. Fixed now.
3) Q &A is always both predictable and surprising. Some kid will always ask if you are rich. Just say no and move on. On the other hand, if the whole amphitheater laughs when you tell them your idea for your next middle grade book, it's a good day. :)
5) Sixth-graders really are fabulous, even at 3:00 PM on a Friday. Librarians who work with them, and provide cookies, and invite staff to come down and meet you after the presentation are doubly fabulous. Thank you, Mrs. Proffitt! And thank you, Wildcats, for the T-shirt!