Thursday, June 18, 2015

catching up on school visits: Friends at the Friends School!

I (like all authors & illustrators) spend a lot of time alone writing and drawing and I always have to fight the small doubts that whisper: Does this matter? Will anyone care?  

But, when I visit schools and meet the enthusiastic readers of my books those doubts are so, so happily squashed. The joy of seeing my books well-loved is really the fuel that makes my finish my books.  Just the memory of it is like having a team cheering you on.  

And one recent visit was particularly nourishing. Many years ago, I received a letter from a teacher, Felix Chen. It was so long ago, I don't even remember what he said or what I replied! But I do remember after hearing about my book-in-progress, he even sent me photos from his trips to Taiwan so that I could use for reference  as well as telling me some of his humorous experiences there. It was so helpful that I thanked him in my book Dumpling Days:

I think he was the one who told me about the puppies in the vending machine at the night market!
We continued to correspond and last year I was so thrilled when he told me his third class had put on their own Where the Mountain Meets the Moon play.  So I was over the moon (so to speak) when this past May, I was able to visit his school! It was a red letter day!

Or maybe I should say it was rainbow-lettered day, for the welcome sign was an artistic thing of beauty:

Do you notice how each letter is made into something inspired by my books:

And the sign was adorned by incredible projects:

Welcome to the City of Bright Moonlight!

the giant toad in Starry River of the Sky!

And that was just when I walked though the door! The hallways were hung with more incredible art!

mixed-media portraits of characters from my book!

The King's Garden from Where the Mountain Meets the Moon (the King & Minli are sculpted figures!)
Classrooms did group projects:
the Kindergarten made a collaborative mural!

isn't it beautiful?

The third grade made puppets of everyone who was in  Where the Mountain Meets the Moon :

including the author!
it's quite flatter, I think!

For another collaborative project, one grade made the Village of Moon Rain:

Each student made their own hut, which they put together for the village:


complete with a mountain cave:
where Minli & Dragon hid! Do you see the well where the Green Tiger met his demise?
When I walked into the third grade classroom, I was a little surprised to see they were all playing board games.  But when I looked closer, I saw they were all playing student-made games--all inspired by my books!
A Year of the Rat board game!
a  "Minli's journey" board game!
I loved all their "danger cards." This one says, "The monkeys attack you! Move back three spaces!"
There was even a Where the Mountain Meets the Moon chess set:

Look at the neat game pieces:
Do you recognize the characters? I see A-fu, A-gong, the Green Tiger and A-fu!
and the buffalo boy, buffalo, Minli, the Old Man of the Moon, Ma & Ba!
I was so excited to see some the costumes from last year's play on display that I asked if I could see some of the students wear them. 

In reply, they just led to the auditorium where I saw this:

Yes! It was an encore of last year's show, just for me:
I think they gave the professional show a run for their money!
the incredible cast of actors and actresses!
It was an amazing day! I'll always remember it!
incredible-teacher Felix Chen & I as a couple of Ugly Vegetables! They made these awesome cut-outs, too!

Thank you so much, my friends at the Abington Friends School!