"Wake up, Rafael!" the alarm whispered. "It's 5:30 AM and you are about to dazzle 80+ third graders in a little town in upstate New York." And dazzle he did. The kids loved him (you know because they listened and were attentive). The teachers adored him ("He was great!" "That was amazing!" "When is he coming?") and all I could think of was the chant we will recite when he does visit. (I'll give you a hint: It's very similar to the one we sang for Matt Cordell.)
Rafael was energetic, inspiring and didn't give us a single hint that he'd rather still be in bed. I had mailed him a package earlier in the week with coffee, chocolate covered espresso beans, some upstate apples and biscotti. I felt terrible about scheduling a before sunrise Skype, but Rafael kept insisting that it was ok.
He showed us some of the early sketches from the book, talked about the process and even gave us a tour of his studio. We asked a few questions including, "What's your favorite color?" Purple and orange but he also likes black since black has all the colors. He had us hunting for the Eric Carle book, What's Your Favorite Color? because of course, we wanted to see immediately how he creatively included color in his gray octopus.
Even though we were celebrating We've Got the Whole World in Our Hands, my students still had questions about The Day You Begin. "Why did you feature the ruler throughout the book?"
Every time you open my books I want you to discover something new. [I like to include] symbols that mean something or send a message. The ruler sends a message to kids to think “How am I measuring up to other kids?”
Wow. That's deep. The teachers were all nodding in amazement. Of course. I shared with Rafael and the students that we are always thinking of "author purpose" but consider this--the illustrator has purpose, too. You can bet I'll be asking that now!
"What inspired you to make this book?"
I wanted to make this book with the message about coming together, diversity, being kind to each other and acceptance. It’s not about me or you but about us. My inspiration is that the future is in your hands. Take care of the planet.
Finally we sang "Happy Book Birthday" took our leaps and then said farewell.
I promise you that if I have it my way our salutation was a very weak goodbye paired with a strong "see you soon." Don't you want to hear 500 voices chant RA-FA-EL-EL? I thought so. Hasta la vista!
Who could resist not seeing these kids in person? 😉
It's like it was practice picture day!
|Ms. Martin and Mrs. Hannah's class|
|Mrs. Pryde's class|
|Mrs. Yager's class|
|Mrs. DeMassio's class|
Thank you for dazzling us my friend.
PS-Rafael has illustrated many books since he began in 2004 (a fun fact we learned today). I don't have as many as I wish I did in the library. Don't worry, when he comes, I will have all of them! But I did pull out the ones I have and Mrs. DeMassio's kids were thrilled to be able to check them out.