Wow, that was one busy spring! After the pandemic put a halt to in-person author visits back in 2020, I wondered when (and if) they would ever start up again. Now I wonder no more.
Why? Well, it seemed like this past spring, every elementary school simultaneously woke up from its pandemic-induced slumber and said, “Hey, let’s have an author visit in person!” From late February until earlier this month, I was on the road almost every week. When I’d briefly stop in at home, my wife would say, “You look so familiar. Have we met?”
From California to Virginia, and from Detroit to Texas, I crisscrossed the country. A few signs of pandemic caution still remained — a handful of mask wearers here, a jumbo bottle of Purell there. But in almost all the schools, the kids were excited, engaged, and hungry for what we authors have to offer.
At Warrenville Elementary in South Carolina, I was greeted by enthusiastic third graders waving flattering signs. I was their first in-person visit since the pandemic, and they really rolled out the welcome mat.
In tiny Pea Ridge, Arkansas, the entire school had read my first Chet Gecko mystery, The Chameleon Wore Chartreuse, as part of their One School, One Read program. Not only did many students dress up as characters from the book (and not just Chet and Natalie), but even the janitor got into the act with a Chet Gecko-themed cart.
At Conrad Weiser Elementary in Womelsdorf, Pennsylvania, the kids went all-out, spurred on by their art teacher and librarian. Geckos and sharks of all shapes and sizes adorned the walls, and they even created their own hat club in my honor! Such a crack-up, and so touching.
For my final out-of-state trip of the spring, I was the keynote speaker for a young writers’ symposium at St. Croix Falls School in western Wisconsin. The third graders heard my talk, then broke into smaller groups to attend breakout sessions on storyboarding and various aspects of the writing craft — just like adult writers. They were cheered on by one of the most engaged and inspiring educators it’s been my privilege to meet, Principal Rita Platt.
All in all, it was a rewarding, and somewhat exhausting, spring. Now I’m looking forward to a summer of writing (in between devouring peach pie and goofing off). Hope your summer is a sensational one!