“What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it.”
J. D. Salinger. The Catcher in the Rye.
To have a children’s writer or an illustrator in your school is a stimulus for any student who loves reading and writing. If the author is someone who talks to an audience in a way that appeals to them he can inspire even those who are not much interested in reading or writing. GMA was blessed to have such an author at school on the 6th of November. The author is none other than Peter Lerangis the American author whose books are widely acclaimed. Peter has written more than 160 books and is well known for his adventurous fiction Seven Wonders. Students from grade 5 to 7 had a delightful session with the author for more than one hour.
With more than 160 books in his credit and more than four million copies sold, Peter manages to break free from his writing studio. He has become known for his lively, informative school visits before audiences of all sizes and ages. He has always been a strong advocate of literacy and the encouragement of reluctant readers. Early on Peter wrote puzzle books and movie novelizations such as The Hardy Boys and The Hardy Boys / Nancy Drew Super mysteries, The Three Investigators and the Babysitters Club. In 2003, Peter was invited by the White House to accompany First Lady Laura Bush to Moscow, with R.L. Stine and Marc Brown to represent the U.S. at the first Russian Book Festival. More recently Peter became one of Scholastic’s Dream Team of authors for their New York Times bestselling series, The 39 Clues, a ground-breaking ten-book adventure series designed to increase readership by encouraging involvement with the adventure online.
After a welcome speech and a short introduction of the author by our students, Peter began his magical talk. Unlike many others, Peter explained how he started writing as a student and how reluctant he was to show his work to others. This really made me wonder since I have experienced students who are voracious readers telling me that they are reluctant, sometimes shy, sometimes scared to show their work to others. He explained realistically how failure can lead one to success eventually. He said he believes there are five steps to successful writing. Step one is you fail, step two is, you fail, step three is, you fail, step four is, you fail and step five you succeed! He told the students that the point where they succeed, they feel like the characters in the story urge them to change the story and tell them what to do. I could watch brimming enthusiasm on the face of most of the students who attended the session. I am sure this particular point made every student think for a second.
The narration of biography needs a special talent to catch the attention of the audience without getting them bored and Peter proved himself to be a great storyteller and narrator in every word he spoke. Students listened to him as though they are watching an animated movie. They were totally captivated, while he talked about how he came up with ideas to write. He showed the illustrations and stories he did as a student. Later he shared his real-life experience of being asked by the Obama administration to go to Russia on Air Force one to meet Putin. His presentation was well received by the students since he had a special sense of humor, suspense and lot of enthusiasm and spirit.
The students had a quick question and answer segment after his presentation, Questions ranged from what inspired him to write, how long does he usually take to finish a book and how does his start a story. There was also a book signing session for the students for his series Seven Wonders and his latest book Max Tilt: Fire the Depths. He patiently signed all the books piled before him and the students were totally enraptured to have the signed copy of his book. A big Thank You to Peter Lerangis from GMA for his auspicious presence and wonderful presentation for our students.
For an author visit to happen, it should be carefully planned, prepared and executed. It requires time, commitment and patience from a group of people. Thanks to all the people who put their effort to make this happen. What I could make out from the happy and contented face of the students who left the library after the session was that, the event was one of the most powerful and inciting literary experience they will always cherish in their life.