Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Fabulous Author Visit - George Hagen - Gabriel Finley and the Raven's Riddle

Back in late June, I was shopping for my school library in Books, Bytes and Beyond. Mary Brown flashed an arc and said, "I think you'd like this and there might be an author visit opportunity." Well. Mary has almost never steered me wrong when it comes to book recommendations. Each author she has brought to my school has impressed my students and colleagues. You can be sure that I snatched that little sucker up, quick as a wink. 

Once I finally got to Gabriel Finley and the Raven's Riddle by George Hagen, I fell into a world I did not wish to leave and wrote a bit about it here. Other bloggers wrote about it here and here. Kirkus liked it and Booklist, PW and SLJ all gave it stars. I nominated it in the middle grade speculative fiction category when the Cybils nominations opened last week.

Tuesday was THE day! Given the fact that I failed to ask if Mr. Hagen needed any technology until about an hour before his arrival, and sent an email to the staff mis-stating the time, the event went off without a hitch. 

Using a humorously illustrated PowerPoint presentation, George Hagen spoke about his journey to becoming a writer and shared some of the art he drew whenever he got stuck writing Gabriel's story. He's pretty good! I wish I was quick enough with my camera to capture the sketch he made of Aviopolis. 

Mr. Hagen also spoke briefly about the various ideas that were discussed for the cover art. 

Here's a shot of my principal and Mr. Hagen just before the assembly began. My principal does not ordinarily wear a neon vest during the school day. This is Red Ribbon Week at my school and it was wear neon day. 

Visiting speakers often comment on how well behaved our students are. This is not an accident. Frequent discussions are held about "audience mode," what it is and how it looks. It's part of the culture of our school that is modeled and reinforced by my colleagues and administration. They don't sit down and grade papers during presentations. 

The magic of our "audience mode" was shattered when we got to the riddles part of the presentation. Mr. Hagen promised the students that they would get their brains squished a bit at the end. I don't think he banked on how enthusiastically the group would embrace solving his "stinky pinkies." I have a feeling the language arts teachers are going to have some fun extending that activity.

Before Trish squired Mr. Hagen back to the store to sign books, he signed a print of the map of Aviopolis as a gift to the school and posed for a picture with me. I will have it framed pronto and hang it in the library.

Thank you George Hagen, Random House and Books, Bytes and Beyond for this wonderful visit.

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