Showing posts with label Illustrator. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Illustrator. Show all posts

Friday, March 22, 2024

Author’s visit ignites literary and artistic excitement in elementary students

By Lorraine Glowczak

Two weeks ago, the second- and third-grade students at Raymond Elementary School (RES) and Windham Primary School (WPS) hosted a distinguished guest, John Patrick Green, the author and illustrator of the beloved graphic novel InvestiGators and Agents of S.U.I.T series.

Through engaging storytelling and illustration, Green not only entertained but sparked enthusiasm for reading among the students.

Windham Primary School third grader Carter
Caswell has eight books by graphic novelist
and illustrator John Patrick Green, who recently 
visited Raymond Elementary School and WPS
and gave a presentation to students. Carter
was able to have Green sign one of his books
RES third-grade teacher Carolynne Bacon said that Green engaged the audience by weaving humor into his stories, describing his early experiences of reading and illustrating during his elementary school years.

“The story of his youth resonated with the students, who recognized a few parallels between John's journey and their own, inspiring them to embrace their passion for graphic novels while fostering a love for reading," she said.

Bacon explained that Green promoted graphic novels as an authentic reading experience that enhances their vocabulary, improves reading appreciation, and helps to understand plot and character development like any other novel.

“Students experienced a boost of confidence upon realizing that graphic novels are also considered as ‘real’ literature,” she said. “They are often told that graphic novels are not ‘true’ books.”

Amy Jorgensen, a WPS third grade teacher agreed, sharing an additional way Green connected with the students.

“He engaged the students through illustrations, beginning with a drawing of Garfield while telling his origin story,” Jorgensen said. “Many students in the audience enjoy reading his books and his story made an impact. Some students bought signed copies as part of the event.”

One of those schoolchildren was WPS third grader Carter Caswell, who reads about two hours per day. He said that Green is one of his favorite authors, boasting a collection of eight books from Green's two prominent series.

Caswell shared a few highlights from the author’s visit.

“He told us that when he was a little kid, he was sick, so he drew a lot,” Caswell said. “He really liked to draw Garfield. He said he got so good at it that he started selling his drawings of the cat to his friends at school. The author got in trouble because his friends were spending their lunch money on his artwork. But he got in the most trouble because he did something called ‘copyrighting.’”

The author confirmed Caswell’s recollections.

“During my talk, I mentioned I had terrible asthma, and my allergies were really bad,” Green said. “I was diagnosed at 3 months old, spending a lot of time in emergency rooms throughout my youth with severe asthma attacks.”

Until medical advancements allowed him more freedom outdoors, Green spent most of his youth indoors reading and drawing his favorite comic strip character, Garfield.

“I got really good at drawing Garfield,” Green said. “Carter is right, my friends purchased my drawings with their lunch money. When the school called my mom to tell them that the children were spending their lunch money on my pictures of Garfield, she was a bit more concerned about another offense. She had to explain to me about copyright infringement.”

Jorgensen said that Green’s jovial authenticity and skill of connecting with youth inspired creativity in her students.

“He made them feel like they could write and draw comics because his passion for the arts was so contagious,” she said. “He highlighted the process of editing your work. Editing and revising is a difficult skill for learners at this age and he made it ok to rewrite a whole book, pictures, and all.”

Jorgensen also incorporated some of the inspiration of Green’s visit into her lessons for her students.

“I added some autographed copies of the "InvestiGators" series to my collection which they are welcome to put into their book boxes and use with care,” she said. “I also used his passion for editing and revising while finishing up publishing our recent books. Many learners were inspired to push through and really make it their best work.”

Caswell said he is currently working on a new project and could not contain his excitement about the way meeting his favorite author has inspired him.

“At school me and my friends are working on a project in art class and are making a comic called, “Gary and Grape,” he said. “I think we can make a really good comic strip out of this. We are even going to sell it just like the author did when he was a kid.” <

Friday, November 1, 2019

New librarian brings love of books and artistic talent to JSMS

Mari Dieumegard with the two
books she has illustrated
By Briana Bizier

Not many librarians can showcase their own work in their library’s collection. Yet this is true for Jordan Small Middle School’s new librarian, Mari Dieumegard, who has also illustrated two children’s books.

I’ve always loved books,” Mari Dieumegard, with a smile. “I love reading young adult books, and I love making children’s books. This job is really the best of both worlds.”

Originally from Alaska, Dieumegard has fond memories of visiting her grandparent’s camp in Monmouth, Maine over the summers. She attended Lewis and Clark College, located in the other Portland, before moving to Maine to attend the Maine College of Art. After graduating with her BFA, Dieumegard began teaching in an independent school in Portland.

My mom was a teacher,” Dieumegard stated, “so working with kids came naturally.”

While teaching, Dieumegard was also developing her career as an independent artist and illustrator. In a process familiar to many who work in the arts, she sent out innumerable query letters and samples of her illustrations to publishers and agents. She also moved away from the independent school in Portland and began working as a substitute teacher in the RSU14 system of Windham and Raymond.

When a position opened up in the Raymond Elementary School library, Dieumegard applied and was hired. Then, three years after sending out her many query letters, Mari was contacted by Islandport Press of Yarmouth. Would she be interested, they wondered, in providing the illustrations for a new children’s book written by Jean Flahive? Dieumegard accepted their offer, and her first publication, “The Old Mainer and the Sea”, was released in October of 2017.

We had a book birthday party at the elementary school,” Dieumegard recalled. “It was really fun.”
My personal Raymond Elementary School insider, Sage Bizier, still remembers this book birthday party, so I can verify that it was indeed very fun. Dieumegard’s collaboration with the author Jean Flahive resulted in a second children’s book, “The Canoe Maker”, which was released earlier this year. Naturally, both books are available at the Jordan-Small Middle School library and the Raymond Elementary School library. You can also find signed copies of both books at Mari’s website:
Although her illustrations focus on children’s books, Dieumegard’s love of young adult literature shines through her thoughtful book recommendations. She gave me a tour of the library while Lisa Schadler, the previous librarian at Jordan-Small Middle School, re-organized the book selection by genre to make it easier for young readers to find the books that appeal to them.
offering several recommendations for the voracious nine-year-old reader at my house.

I personally like fantasy and realistic fiction,” she said, “but I am trying to push my boundaries and read more horror and spooky stories so I can help the kids find what they want.”

Dieumegard also brings her considerable artistic talents to her position as a librarian. As the advisor to the Jordan Small library club, the LitWits, Dieumegard is currently sponsoring a logo design contest for the middle school students. She plans to teach students in the library club how to use Google Draw to create their own logo for the library. In a process that is a bit similar to Dieumegard’s own experiences submitting her illustrations to publishers, the students’ designs will then be posted online, and the school will vote to choose the winner.

This library is really a community space,” Dieumegard said. “Teachers will send their classes down here to work on projects, or students will come down with a library pass.” She smiled as a few young library lovers poked their heads into the sunny, open room.
It’s a job that doesn’t feel like a job.”