Boathouse, School, and Public Speaking, Oh My!

Can I let you guys in on a little secret?

I hate public speaking.

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Okay, so maybe hate is too strong of a word….how about I thoroughly dislike public speaking?

Being in front of people and having them look at me gives me the heebie jeebies. I break out into splotchy hives under my neck like this:

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HIVES!!!! In my WEDDING pictures!!!! Thankfully this is just a mild case…

I’m always afraid I’m going to say something wrong and make a fool out of myself, and being the center of attention is not my cup of tea.

But I love my job and Boathouse Mouse more than I hate speaking in front of people. So when my son’s fourth grade teacher asked if I’d be willing to come in and talk to them and the fifth graders about being an illustrator, I jumped at the chance!

It was a lot of fun visiting with the kids this morning. I spoke for about 40 minutes (which flew by!) and then there was Q&A time for about 10 – 15 minutes afterwards.

Some things we talked about were:

  • Who makes up the team that makes the Boathouse books (there are four of us!)
  • How long it takes to make each book (about 6 months for the whole book, with about 5-10 hours on each page)
  • How I come up with each illustration idea
  • How I design each character; we walked through the process of designing Boathouse and learned what ‘anthropomorphic’ means
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Explaining which parts of Boathouse are made up and which are real mouse based
  • What supplies I use; they got to see the difference between the watercolor paper they use in school vs. what I use for illustrations, see my special graphite paper, and hear why I use three different mediums for coloring
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I’m showing them where the graphite is gone from being transferred to the final paper
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One of the kids feeling the difference between cold press and hot press watercolor paper
  • How the skills they’re gaining in school help with publishing a book (reading, math, public speaking, computer, etc.)
  • I broke down each step of the process; they were surprised at how much work really goes into a book!
  • Aaaand they may or may not have gotten to hear an excerpt from Book 2! But oh man, they were not too happy with me when I wouldn’t read any more!

I had to be careful about what pictures I included; I wish I could include some pictures of the kids getting excited about Book 2, but I don’t have permission to include any kiddos in my blog. I do have permission to include the boy’s head in some of these pictures, but it also helps he belongs to me 😉 My eldest was also at the presentation, but she was my photographer extraordinaire (aka she took over 1,200 pictures!).

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Q&A time!

I had such a great time that when the fourth grade teacher asked if she could tell other teachers about the presentation and see if any of them want me to come talk to their classes, I of course said yes 🙂

Maybe public speaking isn’t so bad after all? Or maybe it’s not so bad because it’s over and I don’t have another engagement lined up at the moment 😉

 

Do you like public speaking? Give me your best tips for feeling comfortable in front of a group! And let me know if you have any questions about the illustrating/book making process!

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Boathouse Goes to School

Back in November, a woman from my church approached RV and me about buying Boathouse books for a preschool class that she helps to teach. They were going to be doing an author/illustrator unit, and would love to use Boathouse as their featured book. It was exciting to hear that a school was going to be using our book for a project, and we looked forward to seeing pictures of what they did.

About a week ago, Kim called me out of the blue. The school was going to be having an open house/exhibition night, and would I be interested in coming in to see the kids’ projects and hand out the books to the kids in person.

Um, YES!!!!!

It was so much fun meeting all of the kids, hearing about their favorite parts of the book, and seeing their Wanderer projects.

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They made little Boathouse figures, almost like a paper doll. He has his hat, his marlinspike on a cord, his tool box, boat plans, and Wanderer for them all to fit in! It’s even laminated, so the kids can play with them and not worry about them ripping. They even made an extra one for me, which I am going to frame for my office.

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They also drew pictures of their favorite parts of the book! Most of them loved the seagull and when Boathouse was on Wanderer.

Kids

The kids and parents were all excited about having their own copies of the book; kids have been going home and talking about the book and the projects, and the parents had no reference of what book they were talking about. The principal even came in and bought a couple copies for kids in her life as she was excited about the book as well.

Just seeing how loved this character and book are takes my breath away. I love being part of this project, and seeing others excited gets me all that more excited as well!

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However, the overall experience was a little strange. Parents were taking pictures of me talking to their kids and even having me pose with them. Kids were squealing when they met me, and I even had one little boy who kept coming back to talk about the book and was giving me hugs when he had his picture taken with me! I am just not used to that kind of attention!

 

A huge thank you to Kim and the school for a wonderful night, it was such an honor to be invited!

And stay tuned….Book 2 is close to being finished and will be available soon!