We had a sweet, playful, and engaging visit with children's book author/illustrator Max Amato yesterday. Max is a young artist whose very first children's book, PERFECT, caught the eye of one of my students. This little boy brought the book in to share with the class and it was a smashing success. I was so taken with their reaction that I emailed Max to invite him to visit with our kindergarten and first grade students. Happily, he accepted!
I couldn't wait to tell the students about his response. They cheered and jumped up and down when I shared the news. Once again, I thought how wonderful it is to teach in New York City. Opportunities like these seem more available here.
|Max Amato meets the student who brought PERFECT to our attention|
Max read his book alongside an ASL interpreter as the children giggled and supplied a charming running commentary. The kindergarten students knew the book, but the first graders were seeing it for the first time. PERFECT is a mostly visual experience about an eraser who wants everything "perfect" and his fun-loving nemesis, pencil.
In the end, the pair learns to work together to create adventure. Max told us that as a child he wanted everything perfect and learned to embrace imperfection. PERFECT was inspired by his letting go. It is a journey that I understand all too well, although I still want things to be perfect.
|Max Amato used pencil and eraser to create artwork before our very eyes!|
After the reading, Max put a blank piece of paper under our document camera and slowly used a pencil to cover the entire page. He then asked the children what images they wanted to see. Then, he created them using an eraser. And yes, there was applause when he was finished!
The children went off to their tables armed with their own paper, pencils, and erasers to make their own art. As they did, Max autographed books for everyone.
|Max Amato signs books for the students|
The room was filled with energy and movement - just how I like it. Children were happily invested in their creations. It's a simple way to create art. One that is accessible to everyone. It's messy and smudgy and imperfect, but somehow absolutely perfect. I guess that's the point.
I loved looking around the room to see the children working, hands and faces covered in dark pencil smudges. And then noticing others quietly reading their books, pointing to the words, deep in concentration.
Photo: Sarah PirachaA child quietly reads his copy of PERFECT. I love this picture so much!
Max's visit has encouraged more children to bring in books to share! Every morning someone is pulling a book out of his or her backpack to read to the class. It's very motivating. Who knows, there may be another gem waiting to be discovered.
Photo: Maria EdwardsThe whole crew with children's book author/illustrator Max Amato