Catherine signing books for the children at the Bay Shore-Brightwaters Library on Long Island, New York; my nephew, Tarquin, and Rex; Colin and an orphan elephant. Cheetah; sable antelope; children at the International School of Kenya building toys out of scrap materials; big daddy elephant. Dandy and Celine; talking to the children at the Padeia School in Atlanta about some of her African adventures; Vanessa and Digby with Debra the zebra.
"Drawings of Africa delight young students!
A Class of Bound Brook third-graders oohed and aahed when children's book author-illustrator Catherine Stock took a tiny black box from her purse. The size of a cigarette pack, the box contained the vibrant paints Stock uses to illustrate many of her books. It is a handy item, especially for Stock, who has traveled around the world to re-create colorful scenes for children's books.
One of her favorite locations is Africa, where Stock has lived. In "Where Are You Going, Manyoni?" Stock transformed her love of the African veldt into vivid and dramatic watercolor paintings. The youngsters in the second and third grade classes in Smalley School seemed delighted by her experiences in the faraway land, particularly with wild animals, and enchanted by her anecdotes of close encounters with them. One youngster, 8-year-old Matt Spinner, said one of his favorite parts of her visit was her story about when monkeys raided a tent she and her sister were sharing and made off with their bananas and bread. Jason Gregor, 8, said he enjoyed her story about discovering a python on top of towels in the bathroom of her sister's African home."
Cathy Bugman for The Star-Ledger
"Nice hat, Catherine. Can I have a bite?" My next book is about the lions that grew up on my sister's farm in Zimbabwe.I used to be a teacher and I really miss my kids, so always jump at the chance to meet new children. Writers and artists like me live and work in isolation, so it also gives me a chance to see what children really think of my work. My visits are geared to the audience:
I have illustrated many multicultural books, so I read and tell stories to young children about some of the adventures I have had researching the pictures.
I trawled for fish at dawn in South Africa (Armien's Fishing Trip)
was charged by a hippo in Malawi (Galimoto)
woke up covered in African army ants in Tanzania (Kele's Secret)
was chased by a black mamba in Zimbabwe (Where are you Going, Manyoni?)
schmoozed with my beastly neighbors in a French village (Spree in Paree)
was blessed by an elephant in India (The Sanyasin's First Day)
snorkeled in Trinidad and Tobago (An Island Christmas)
danced on the beach under a full moon in Greece (Island Summer)
saw a baby being born on a bumpy taptap ride in Haiti (TapTap/Painted Dreams)
and fainted in a pyramid in Mexico (Today is the Day)
Some pictures of Gugu's House freshly painted and then what it looks like after the rains. Mrs. Khoza rebuilding her house, and with an enthusiastic visitor, me.
I know that small children get restless sitting for very long so I try to make my stories funny and animated, and bring along as much as I can to show: photographs, paints, my artbox, a real galimoto or a small clay zebra that Mrs. Khoza made for me to take home.
I show older kids slides and talk about how I write and illustrate my books. I bring the manuscript, the dummy with the sketches and type pasted in position (the "sloppy copy"), the press sheet, and the final book.
If there is time and the audience isn't too big, I like to draw a picture as the kids and I create a story together.
I also enjoy presenting and speaking at conferences about my books.
I am developing a week-long Artist in Residence program for schools. I used to be an art teacher myself, so this might be of particular interest to schools that don't have a regular art teacher or art classes. I work with the teachers, parents and children beforehand to set up a program of interest to a particular school that might include story writing, illustrating, painting, building sculptures out of scrap materials, and even an exhibition.
Drawing in South Africa for Armien's Fishing Trip; working on Galimoto in Malawi
"Ellie Hess's kindergarten class in Bernard's Township eagerly peeked out the door yesterday, waiting for a special visitor for whom they had been preparing for three weeks. When she came, she did not disappoint them. Catherine Stock, a writer and illustrator of children's books, charmed the youngsters with pictures, stories, toys and a painted Easter egg.
Art displays decorated the halls. To illustrate "Sophie's Bucket", one of Stock's books about a shore vacation, Hess's class had made a beach scene, gluing sand to paper, adding a blue cellophane sea and pasting on cut-out figures of children, beach towels and fish."
Bev McCarron for The Star Ledger
Everyone gets more out of a school visit if the children are well prepared. Otherwise at the end of my talk, I get asked questions like "Where did you get your shoes?"
Besides being familiar with the author or illustrator's books, here are some other suggestions about getting ready for a school visitor:
Decorate the classroom or a hallway bulletin board with a theme from a book
Have kids make bookmarks based on a book that they have read
Have children write and illustrate their own books. The books can have covers that include information about the book on the front flap and the author/artist on the back flap. The best books can even be put on display in the library, with a card in them for check out.
Make a project out of something after reading the books. Here are some suggestions:
Where are you Going Manyoni? Decorate the school, hallway, library or classroom to look like Africa with craggy rocks, thorn and palm trees. The children could choose exotic birds, elephants, leopards, and other wild life to study, write about and draw to put into this landscape. Get the children to write and illustrate something about something that happened to them or that they saw on their way to or from their school. This could be a good introduction to talk to children about how other children in the world live.
Gugu's House and Painted Dreams On large white shelfing paper, all the children can paint a mural of dreams. What would they use if they didn't have paint brushes? Try making some paint brushes out of hair, or use popsicles, fingers, sticks, feathers, cotton balls, leaves, etc. What if they didn't have any paint? How could they make colors? Try grinding and mixing paints out of clay, ash, and charcoal.
If I am going to read one of my Zimbabwe stories, like Gugu's House or Where are you going, Manyoni?, it might be fun to teach the children a few Venda expressions to urge me on from time to time, which is what people do to storytellers in Africa. When I used to hear veteran jazz singer Alberta Hunter sing in New York, she encouraged her audience to "talk" to her, in the same way. Here are some expressions:
Ehe! (eh-HEH!) which means "Yes!"
Ndizvozvo! (dzi-VOZ-vo!) which means "It is so!"
Dzefunde! (dze-FUN-de) which means "Go on!"
Galimoto Have a galimoto building contest. Students make their own galimotos out of pipe cleaners and discarded materials that they have collected (milk cartons, plastic bottles, paper cups, tin foil, bottle caps, toilet paper rolls, string). Or get children to gather their own precious things in a shoe box, or draw a shoe box and paste on drawings of five of their most favorite things.
TapTap Make small taptaps out of cereal boxes, or a giant taptap out of a refrigerator box and decorate them. Cut taptaps out of poster board and decorate them.
Is this a Sack of Potatoes? Make a lift-a-flap book with the children. What would would they hide under their blanket, in the closet, behind the drapes? Is it scary or nice or funny?
Gus and Grandpa and the Christmas Cookies Make and decorate cookies out of a dough like clay. A good and inexpensive recipe is four cups of flour to one cups of salt and enough water to make into a nice pliable dough which can be rolled out and punched out with cookie cutters. Punch holes so that later a ribbon can be slipped through them to hang on the Christmas tree. Food dies can be added to the dough or the cookies can be painted after they dry. They do not need to be baked. Talk about sharing, a theme in the book, and get groups of children to share and exchange their cookie cutters, paints and brushes by perhaps not having enough for everyone to have their own.
Ordering books for sale:
See sample illustrations and read some reviews on about them on my books page by clicking here.
Contact the publishers and let them know that you are ordering books for an author visit and want the school discount (usually 40%), at least four to six weeks before event. Keep a note of the person you talked to.
Local bookstores will often order books for you with a discount and return policy which will simplify the ordering if you want books from several publishers. If you run into any problems, please let me know and I will call my editors who can intervene.
Here are easily available books with contact information for ordering:
Vinnieand Abraham by Dawn Ftizgerald
To place and order with Charlesbridge, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (800) 225-3214
A Porc in New York by Catherine Stock
To place an order with Holiday House, call 212-688-0085
The Bora Bora Dress by Carole Lexa Schaefer
To place an order, email email@example.com
A Spree in Paree by Catherine Stock (above right)
To place an order with Holiday House, call 212-688-0085
Where are you going, Manyoni by Catherine Stock
Galimoto by Karen Lynn Williams
A Very Important Day by Maggie Herold
Painted Dreams by Karen Lynn Williams
Nellie Bly by Joan Blos
Harper/Collins: To place an order, please call 1-800 242-7737.
Gugu's House by Catherine Stock
Tap-Tap by Karen Lynn Williams
Too Far Away to Touch by Leslea Newman
An Island Christmas by Lynn Joseph
Doll Baby by Eve Bunting
Street Talk by Ann Turner
Clarion Books and Houghton Mifflin: Contact Molly O'Neill (212) 420-5832
Toll free number for ordering books: (1 800) 225-3362
Gus and Grandpa (all by Claudia Mills)
Gus and Grandpa and the Christmas Cookies
Gus and Grandpa Ride the Train
Gus and Grandpa at the Hospital
Gus and Grandpa and the Two Wheeled Bike
Gus and Grandpa and Show and Tell
Gus and Grandpa at Basketball
Gus and Grandpa and Halloween Costume
Gus and Grandpa go Fishing
Gus and Grandpa and the Piano Lessons
Farrar, Straus & Giroux: Contact Adalena Kavanagh, 800/221-7945 ext. 573, fax: 212/598-9173
Kaddish for Grandpa in Jesus' Name, Amen by James Howe
Halloween Monster by Catherine Stock
Thanksgiving Treat by Catherine Stock
Christmas Time by Catherine Stock
Miss Viola and Uncle Ed Lee by Alice Faye Duncan
By the Dawn's Early Light by Karen Ackerman
Atheneum/Simon & Schuster: Contact Laurie or Lisa at 1-800-976-1726
The Sanyasin's First Day by Ned Shank
Is This a Sack of Potatoes? by Crescent Dragonwagon
Marshall Cavendish: Contact Arlene Riley or Deirdre Langeland
Kele's Secret by Tololwa Mollel
Penguin Putnam:Email Chris Blake
These books might be out of print or difficult to obtain but I have copies so email me:
Island Summer by Catherine Stock
Sophie's Bucket by Catherine Stock
Armien's Fishing Trip by Catherine Stock
Thanksgiving Treat by Catherine Stock
Today is the Day by Nancy Riecken
By the Dawn's Early Light by Karen Ackerman
Better with Two by Barbara M. Joose (picture to come)
A Christmas Angel Collection by Catherine Stock
Walker & Company: Contact Theresa D'Orsogna at 1-800-289-2553
School visits are $1500, with a maximum of three presentations and a book signing session a day. All travel, board and lodging expenses is in addition.
I am available for school visits or other speaking engagements twice a year, in the fall and in the spring. Please email me for further information
Dear Ms. Stock thank you so much for coming to our school and you are a great artist. I like your drawings in Africa and your silly stories. From Murrough, Andrew, Hannah Rose, Georgie, Margaret Hines, Nathan; Reconstruction of Gugu's House by children at the International School of Kenya; Dear Miss. Stock, we LOVED! that you came to our school. Can YOU find MANYONI?! love Lauren, Graham, Preston, Courtney, Alice, Berry, Jack, Zach, Molly, Elaine, Hal, Alia, India, Ali, Caroline,Filipe, Lane, Alec, Kelly, Charlie
Wire toys by Grade 5 kid, with the help of local crafts men and women, at the International School of Kenya; The kindergarten children and Catherine exchange a hug during her visit to ISK.
"It seems ages since you were here but we are full of happy memories of your week with us. Thank you again for coming to visit ISK. It was a memorable experience for all of us in the Elementary School and a highlight of the school year. The kids are still asking for your books when they come to the library and wondering when Gus and Grandpa Go On Safari will be published! It really pleases me that I can constantly refer back to you and your books as examples of an author you know, a series you know, a beginning reader book you know.... " Barbara Jones, Librarian at the International School of Kenya, Nairobi
"I have had so much fun talking to my classes about your visit. The children light up as they recall stories you shared, places you've been, etc. We continue to read your books, but now appreciate them even more! Thanks again for visiting our school. You were a wonderful guest!" –– Leslie Rumney, Librarian at the Latin School of Chicago
"You brought an atmosphere of Africa- the veldt, dry and dusty land, hot sun and welcoming rains along with joy. Gugu's House is exuberantly wonderful when the rains come. And stories! You were filled with stories and so many were funny. The kids absolutely responded to you." Kallyn Krash, Librarian at the Manhattan Country School
"The library, and the parents and children of the community were thrilled that you were able to take time out of your busy schedule and spend a truly delightful afternoon with us. Parents and children continue to speak of the wonderful program and for many, it was a first-time experience to actually meet a noted author and illustrator. Parents were particularly impressed with the care and attentiveness that you showed the children during your book signing." Linda J. Clark, Head of Children's Services at the Bay Shore-Brightwaters Public Library, Long Island
"The students couldn't get enough of your books for the rest of the year. Thank you for bringing Africa to life for us." Briar Sauro and the students of Friends Seminary Lower School, New York City
"Thank you for being such a wonderful addition to the Town School's Book Fair. I had the privilege of being in the audience for your presentation to the Lower School and loved every minute of it. Each of your careful descriptions came to life through your gleeful telling- sound effects and all. I was thrilled to see so many hands shoot up for questions." Nancy Fellowman, Town School, New York City
"Thanks so much for coming to Roosevelt. You totally inspired me, and I'm sure many of the children. You took me to Africa and Paris in my mind, with your wonderful illustrations and enthusiastic words. Roosevelt is a better school, now that you have enriched us." —Frank Calarco, Pricipal of the Roosevelt School, Wauwatosa, Wisconsin
"What a wonderful life you lead, and how nice that you came to share a little of yourself with us at R.O.B.S.! We vicariously enjoyed all your travels and exploits and we loved seeing your beautiful paintings. Thank your for your wonderful presentation. We will be on the lookout for all your new books!" —Sally Hilliard, River Oaks Baptist School, Houston
Art projects by the children of the International School in Nairobi
Catherine travels frequently but you can always contact her via her email address, firstname.lastname@example.org, or by clicking here. She can usually be found at the address below:
Tel/fax 011 (33) 565336940
HOW TO ENSURE A TERRIFIC VISIT by Toni Buzzeo and Jane Kurtz
Give yourself plenty of time. You'll probably want to start at least six months ahead of time. In fact, it's often necessary to contact bookpeople a year or more in advance (depending on how much speaking they do).
Read the books! Everyone we interviewed agreed that the most important thing for making a school visit into a real reading and writing experience was for children to know the authors books before the visit.
Plan creative projects to go along with the books. The more students interact with a book, the more they "own" it and are ready for the exciting experience of meeting its author or illustrator.
Organize an autographing opportunity. A good visit leaves everyone hungry for reading more books and also leaves many students enthusiastic about the special experience of owning a book.
Get everyone involved. The best visits come when classroom teachers, library media specialists, administrators, art and music teachers, and parents all have a chance to put on their creative thinking caps and contribute good ideas.
Wherever possible, make community connections as well. Consider coordinating the visit with the public library. Involve parents, volunteers, and community members in the visit. Use local media and school newsletters to advertise the event in advance.
Designate a single contact person who will supply teachers with materials, books, and connections needed and who will keep in touch with bookperson in advance of the visit.
Remember that it's hard to go on the road. Pay careful attention to arrangements that will make the author's visit more comfortable. For example, plan ample breaks, supply hot or cold liquids during and between presentations, inquire about the bookperson's wishes for lunch in advance, begin and end on time.
We have to say it. Read the books again! Don't fudge on this tip and you'll be delighted and amazed at the interesting connections and sizzling reading and writing experiences that will become memorable moments of every bookperson visit.
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