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Learning About the Author, Unplugged


A 'Glog' -- a cross between a blog and website -- introduced students to the writer, but a visit really inspired.



Learning about an author in this digital era is turning out to be a whole lot more than turning the pages of the writer’s work. At Hillside Elementary School, media specialist Colleen Donnelly created an “interactive poster” with pictures and texts -- and links and videos -- for an author study on Dan Yaccarino, the author and illustrator of more than three dozen books and creator and producer of several children’s cartoons on Nick Jr. 

The students discovered his books – and TV shows, puzzles and games – and simply devoured such information that he loves candy and creates in a room full of toys.
 
But learning about the author from his apps showed just so much.
 
Indeed, “there are some things that you need to experience for real,” said Yaccarino, who while plugging his latest book, “Doug Unplugged” could just have easily been plugging the benefits of author visits to schools.
 
Children at Hillside Elementary School were excited to meet Yaccarino on February 15. The Montclair native is among the “stars” of the children’s book world visiting Livingston Public Schools, where elementary schools are a stop for some other top authors, including Dan Gutman and Patricia Polacco this year.

To prepare for the Hillside visit with Yaccarino, Mrs. Donnelly created a special website so students could get the most out of his visit.
 
“I made this one for Dan Yaccarino because I wanted the boys and girls to really study him beyond just reading his books,” Mrs. Donnelly said. “The Glog allowed them to discover his website, his blog and interviews he has done in the past.  The result was that they had much stronger questions for him during the Q&A portion of the presentation that reflected a more personal knowledge of his work and interests.”
 
His book on the oddities discovered in a family’s cross-country adventure, “Go, Go America,” for instance, inspired a question about Yaccarino’s favorite road trip when he was a child.
 
That was Williamsburg, Va., a vacation remembered mostly for a delicious apple cider, Yaccarino said.
 
Yaccarino’s visit was scattered with childhood drawings (his notebooks were scribbled full of aliens, monsters, superheroes) and photos of the aspiring artist. He clearly inspired the Hillside students, including Student Council President Julie Silberman who wrote, “Thank you so much for coming. When I was little I used to watch some of your shows and I loved them. I want to be an author when I grow up so it was really interesting to meet and learn from you."

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