Students Get Tips from Author/Illustrator

Creekside Students Get Tips from Best-Selling Author/Illustrator
Posted on 10/28/2020
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Creekside VLO and in-person students recently learned the secret to being good at anything.

collage of author talking with first-gradersAward-winning author and illustrator Derek Anderson held a special Zoom session for each grade at Creekside, where he shared this secret along with many other tips about writing and drawing.

Anderson’s planned visit last spring was cancelled due to COVID, so the school’s PTO arranged for him to visit virtually this fall. 

“I have the best job in the world,” began Anderson. “I get to make things up!”

Admittedly, it was a hard job to get. He told the students about the word ‘rejection’ and how he heard it A LOT. But he decided that if he kept practicing, he would eventually get better. And to get better, he had to step outside of his comfort zone and try to draw things he had never drawn before.

“Having real-life people share their talents with our students is so powerful and impactful,” said Creekside Principal Linda Pavlinac. Anderson shared some of his first drawings from elementary school and how he started writing stories. “We encourage our cubs to be writers and illustrators of the stories they create starting in kindergarten where the focus is on drawing pictures first and then adding words to match your illustrations.”

Anderson also read aloud one of his twenty-five books, and students loved to learn that he likes to hide an illustration of his second-grade self in nearly every book he publishes.

One of the biggest highlights of the visit was when Anderson invited the students to grab a piece of paper and a crayon or marker to draw along with him. Together, they drew one of Anderson’s most popular characters. The students were all smiles when they had the chance to hold up their drawings for him to see when they were finished. Students and staff alike absolutely loved this interactive portion of the visit.

Prior to the Zoom visit, students were introduced to some of Anderson’s books and were given the opportunity to purchase his books – and Anderson personally signed a message to each student. Frequently during the Zoom call, students would proudly hold up their Derek Anderson books.

Classes also came up with questions to ask Anderson during the visit.

How do you think of ideas for your stories? Just ask questions about things in your own life, like ‘why did it happen?’ or ‘what if?.’

Why do you use animals in your books instead of people?  I love how expressive animals are.

Why did you want to be an author? The great thing about being an author and illustrator -- or any creative endeavor -- is that three people can be given the same topic and none of the results will be the same. No one draws or writes like I do or like you do. Each of you are unique and only you can create what you do – no one else can do it.

And what was Anderson’s secret to being good at anything – whether it is to draw or write or sing or be a good athlete?

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, and always believe in yourself.

Anderson said, “If you do this, you can do anything. You can change the world.”