Daly Elementary School celerated its Specials Week – an annual event, which promoted this year’s school-wide theme, "Write On, Right On" – by welcoming two celebrated authors, Tad Hills and David Paterson.
On Feb. 5, New York Times best-selling author and illustrator Tad Hills visited Daly School. He delighted students as he read aloud his book, "Rocket Writes A Story," which is also Daly's book of the year. He spoke with them about the illustrating and writing process, and showed them how he created the duck from his "Duck and Goose" series.
The students were fascinated to learn how he uses basic shapes to convey different emotions. In response to student questions about how he gets his ideas, Hills shared stories of inspiration, igniting sparks in the students’ imaginations. A second-grade student, Sam Rothenberg, age 7, said he was excited to meet “the author of the Book of the Year and to learn how he comes up with his stories.” Many left the presentation eager to start creating characters and stories of their own.
“Tad Hills’ visit to Daly represents an amazing culminating event that helped us celebrate our recent successes with reading and writing,” Daly’ Principal Drew Graves noted.
Later that week, on the evening of Feb. 7, which was Daly’s “Special Night,” the students met a second visitor, David Paterson. Paterson is the screen writer of the 2007 film, "Bridge to Terabithia," an established playwright who has written numerous plays, including several that have been performed on prominent New York stages.
The original award-winning book, Bridge to Terabithia, was written in 1977 by Paterson’s mother, Katherine Paterson, to help him cope with a tragic event during his early childhood, which resulted in the loss of his best friend. The children were intrigued to learn that the story was based on his childhood and that he was “the original Jess” in the story. Paterson told the audience that he chose to write the screenplay for the movie as he wanted the story to remain as close as possible to the book. Paterson shared with Daly students the emotional and exciting process of bringing the imaginary and mystical world his mother created in the book to life on film.
Paterson asked the children whether they like to write, and there was an enthusiastic show of hands. He then asked the children whether they like to make movies. There was a smaller response to this question. Paterson explained that they had, in fact, all made movies – that every time they read a book and conjured up images in their heads, they were making a movie. He also shared hints on what to do if the children found writing challenging, as well as the process for getting a book published.
"David Paterson's visit showed our students that the process of becoming an author starts at a young age," Graves said. "He also shared that childhood experiences can provide an excellent source of inspiration for writing."
On a lighter note, everyone was fascinated to learn that not only was Mr. Paterson a screenwriter, but he is also a stuntman. He recently performed in a film as a stunt double for Robin Williams.
As with the Tad Hills visit, the evening with David Paterson, which included an autograph and photo session with the Daly community, was enjoyed by students and parents alike.
With special thanks to Lisa Martin Epstein.