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Posts Tagged ‘Lynchburg’

Spiders and Crabs!

Written on Thursday, March 11th, 2010 [permanent link]


Usually I am the Weirdest Thing of The Day when I visit a school — but that was not the case this week at Boonsboro Elementary on the west side of Lynchburg, VA!!!

When I swept in to the office of Boonsboro for a presentation of my “Author’s Silly Purpose” talk, there was a mom steering a Mexican red-kneed tarantula around the shoulders of her son’s first grade teacher!!! Of course I wanted my turn with this lovely female named “Cruella . . . ”

I actually had to make my silly faces for the photos in complete silence because the beautiful Cruella would jump at any sudden motion or sound. I laughed once while she climbed on me, and she didn’t like that boisterousness! She was really lovely — calm and quiet and slow-moving (despite the office folks’ jokes about her going for my jugular vein).

Cruella’s knees weren’t red, as her name implies; they were a peachy kind of orange. Her kind are among the most popular tarantulas available in the pet trade, due to their impressive size, coloring, and peacefulness. Wikipedia tells me they are a slower growing species; it is not uncommon to have females live 25 years or more. (The mom had one plastic container for Cruella and another one full of crickets for her to eat.)

After my fun with the tarantula, it was back to work. I spoke to a cafeteria full of third-, fourth- and fifth-graders at Boonsboro. They liked the crab hat.

One fellow liked the crab hat so much that after the assembly ended he ran to his classroom, grabbed this crab hat and came back to show me!!! I’m glad he was brave and silly enough to share a photo and a fist bump with me — that’s the kind of inspiration I hope to leave at each school I visit.

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From Louisville to Lynchburg!

Written on Friday, May 29th, 2009 [permanent link]

Lynn’s Paradise Cafe

Last week I got to spend time in Louisville, KY, then lead Ohio students on tours of Jamestown and finish with a trip to talk to teachers in Lynchburg, VA. That’s a lot of mileage for history education!

My trip to Louisville, KY, began with cheese grits and “spiced berry pie” at the painted eatery shown above: Lynn’s Paradise Cafe, a beautiful burst of quirky local color. It was like eating in the middle of Mardi Gras! My host, Malana Salyer from the McConnell Center at the University of Louisville, was right on with this breakfast choice!

I did two things for the McConnell Center in Louisville: speak directly to teachers in their outreach program (I was the wrapup to a year of study about the Civil War, so we brainstormed some cartoons and tried to analyze what they had learned) and visit several of those teachers’ schools to talk to students. I do a lot of these Author’s Purpose talks in the spring; what makes each one interesting to me is the character of each different school building and the ideas from the different students. In Louisville I did three sessions at the Brown School, a beautiful downtown school that teaches all grades, K-12! It was fascinating to see all the ages mixing when the day ended. (The auditorium also had some beautiful 1950s tile walls that must have been hand-glued because there were four different creme colors of tile in no noticeable pattern; so I linked that tile to one of my cartoons about Roman mosaic art!)

After two days in Louisville, I flew back to Williamsburg for a 12-hour day of guiding three charter buses of middle schoolers through Jamestown and Colonial Williamsburg. Then Thursday was six hours of driving so I could talk to teachers in Lynchburg, VA, about how to use comix in the classroom. Once I get my audience to agree on the terms of comix, I test those terms. I had fun showing the Lynchburg teachers a page from a beautiful comic called “Meridian,” about a girl with powers. No word balloons on the page I show, but a lot of cursive writing in boxes — just like the writing in journals that many teachers have their fourth- and fifth-graders do!

The teacher training was at Amazement Square, a fantastic children’s museum right on the James River at the edge of Lynchburg’s downtown. For the past four years I have drawn an educational comic strip for the museum — one created to fill the gap after Chester the Crab ended as a newspaper feature! (The Lynchburg News & Advance was the first paper beyond the Daily Press to run the Chester comic, and when those 5 years of stories ended, they wanted to keep providing material for their younger readers; the newspaper approached the museum, and the museum called me) The strip features bug characters that were designed before I came along. It’s been fun to bring personality to beautiful characters that had been used in limited ways before I got ahold of them. The Lynchburg teachers seemed psyched for Year Five of The Adventures of Scorpy Bug. You can see examples of Scorpy’s stories at:

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Chester crab comics