(Mayfield, May 10, 2011) - Teen groupies following a writer around? Students lined up to get t-shirts and books signed by an author? Where? When? In this century? Really?
Yes. Really. Here. Now. Today. At Graves County Middle School this morning. It was a sight to gladden the hearts of parents, teachers and librarians everywhere.
Graves County Middle School hosted a morning with Patrick Carman, whose books for young people have created fans even among that hardest to reach group – pre-teen and teen boys. Carman wrote the New York Times bestseller series “The Land of Elyon” and the multi-tasking, cross over series, “Trackers” and “Skeleton Creek” which features the written word and a video series online. Readers can not only find characters on the page. They can also access them at Carman’s website. www.patrickcarman.com
Carman, a lanky middle aged man, described himself to a auditorium of students as being very small and thin as a child. “I weighed about nine pounds.” He joked. Carman’s puckish sense of humor drew in his audience as he told the rambling story of Gary with the Big Hair and an Evel Kneivel motorcycle toy. Carman simultaneously communicated the joy boys feel when they do something the rest of us call wicked and making a point about reading. He told his audience that each one of them had a different image of Gary in their minds.
“Reading is the only thing you can do that uses imagination. It doesn’t matter how many people read a Harry Potter book before you, it’s still a personal thing for you.”
Carman offered free t-shirts to students who asked good questions. Of course all the questions were good and Carman delighted in lobbing shirts into the crowd.
Students asked where he got his inspiration. “Trying to figure out what you want to read.” How long does it take to write a book? “Six months – but I’m writing more than one book at a time.” The final question was what advice would you give young writers? “Keep reading.”
Carman, who hails from Walla Walla Washington wasn’t in Mayfield on a sunny Tuesday morning by accident. Carman came with a team from Scholastic Books.
The company brought the author to the school as a reward for having the best middle school book fair in the nation. The book fair contest attracted 7000 middle schools. In addition to a visit from a favorite author, the school received a $2000 shopping trip from the company.
Kelly Locker, Graves County Middle’s librarian, spearheaded the school book fair. She and her 31 student crew had the best “advertising, decorations and strategies for reaching students and parents” in the nation, according to a company spokeswoman. Strategies included a video, giant gumball machine, reading groups and turning the school principal into a human banana split. See Scholastic Book Fair Fall 2010 winners