Dave Biedrzycki, an award-winning children’s book author and illustrator, visited six Cherokee County elementary schools this week to help young writers excel.
He gave a presentation to students about how he writes and uses technology to create unique illustrations for the books he authors.
“I have created a number of books over the past 20 years, I have been illustrating books since 1996,” he said.
Biedrzycki wrote and illustrated well-known titles such as the “Ace Lacewing” series, “Me and My Dragon” series and “Breaking News: Bear Alert” series.
“I started drawing when I was 4. When I got into second grade, I created my first superhero … but I was not a very good reader or writer, so my superhero didn’t have any words,” he told students at Knox Elementary School Friday. “By the middle of second grade, I was reading at a second-grade level. By third grade, I was doing better and by fourth grade, you couldn’t get the books out of my hands. After fifth grade, my stories got better because I was reading and writing.”
The Boston, Massachusetts, author and illustrator told the students “all you need is an idea to start, and a journal.”
“To write a book, of course you need a computer, pencil or typewriter, but we all need an idea. I keep my ideas in a certain spot, I keep a journal. I take them all over the place,” he said. “You can become an ‘authorator’ too.”
Biedrzycki’s program is geared to inspire students K-5 and is technology based. During the presentation he showed students how he creates stories and art on the computer. He explained where and how he get ideas and the importance of keeping a journal, as well as discussed the different ways a story could be told.
“In every one of my books, there is an illustration hidden on each page of the books,” he told the students leading into his discussion about his latest series. “’Bear Alert’ has a bear paw on each page.”
“Bear Alert” earned the Georgia Children’s Picture Book Award for 2016. Biedrzycki received the award at the annual Children’s Book Awards and Conference on Children’s Literature in Athens last weekend.
“What makes this award so special is that it was a nominee on a book list for the school year of 2015-16,” Biedrzycki said. “Students from all over Georgia voted this book as their favorite on the picture book list last spring. There are usually about 15 contenders on the annual book list.”
After narrating a story idea, Biedrzycki delved into the drawing process. He show students the graphic tablet and software tools he uses and suggested websites that are similar so students can make their own art.
By using simple shapes he created a beetle and beetle family.
“It’s an interactive demonstration that gets the students involved,” he said. “I discuss beetle biology, primary and opposite colors, symmetry and horizontal and vertical placement. I leave a JPG file of the created art for students and teachers to print up later.”
He ended his presentation showing where and how he researches, how research leads to discovery and how discovery leads to inspiration for his stories.