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Award-winning illustrator visits Roosevelt, shares his inspiration and process

Educators in Action

Roosevelt Elementary School’s main entrance and hallway were decked out in art and collage to greet the award-winning illustrator Christian Robinson who visited the school on Feb. 24 to share his talent and artistic process.

During an all-school assembly, Robinson read through the book Antoinette by Kelly DiPucchio sharing his most recently published illustrations. Antoinette, a sequel to Gaston, once again uses the backdrop of Paris and features French poodles and French bulldogs as the main characters.

Robinson also talked about how he became an illustrator and relayed some of the process he goes through to make his collages for books, from post-it note sketches to painting, tearing and gluing down paper. He mentioned all the decisions he needs to make when illustrating a book. These decisions include ones about color, about where the words of the story will appear on the page, and where he gets his inspiration.

In what seemed like a game of “Stump the Illustrator” for the students, Robinson drew instant sketches for the Roosevelt assembly of a hippo, a panda, a platypus and a Jabberwocky (a la Wonderland). He then answered some great questions from the students: Why do you like to do what you do? Why did you live with your grandmother? How old are you and what’s your favorite animal? Why did you choose collage? and What do you feel when you see kids reading and looking at your books?

His answers were as thoughtful as they were touching. He says that he likes illustrating because one can do anything in a drawing and that he loves telling stories visually.  He chose collage because he says he likes the process of cutting paper with scissors, gluing them down, mixing up the mediums. When reflecting on what he thinks when he sees kids with his books he said “it’s a good feeling.”

“It’s happiness; it’s joy; it’s almost disbelief because my dream was to be able to walk into a bookstore and see my books there,” he shared with the students, “and,” he continued “that makes me really, really happy.”

Other questions he answered were that he is 30 years (though he joked with everyone he was 200, no, a billion years old), and his favorite animal in the world is currently an anteater. When asked, he answered that he lived with his grandmother because his mom and dad at the time were not able to take care of him and his brother, and he mused aloud that probably some of the students in this very school also live with a relative or a friend and he is just like them.

After the assembly, third grader Christopher Michaelson gave Robinson a drawing he made of a map of his town on special paper which raises into bas relief when marking it and he also wrote out a welcome to the artist in braille.

Robinson also made a special visit to a first grade classroom as they wanted to share their animal collage wall with him.

Robinson was visiting Bellingham for the annual Children’s Literature Conference at Western Washington University and he made a special visit to Roosevelt after receiving an invitation from the school’s library media specialist Denisa Anderson.

Be sure to click through all the photos above.




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