Monday, July 15, 2013

Mazza Museum Summer Conference, Day 1

If you don't know about the Mazza Museum, at the University of Findlay, Ohio, it's a beautifully curated museum of picture book art. For the last 20+ years, they've been holding a summer conference and today was day 1, 2013.
Starting off the day was Walter Wick, whose I SPY books held my
boys' attention many long hours when they were kids. Not only that, they held the attention of many an adult with their beautiful photography and challenging rhymes. Walter, a photographer, has gone on to author another series called Can You See What I See? Picture Puzzles to Search and Solve. The Can You See books are very similar to the I SPYs in that they involve pages of intricate photos coupled with a rhyme that prompts kids to find things. One cool thing about them, though, is that they actually involve visual puzzles to solve, making them that much more cognitively stimulating for the reader.  (Puzzles also utilize higher-order thinking skills too--thinking "outside of the box"--so hooray for that too!) Walter went on to show pictures of his "studio"--an old, brick firehouse he bought and transformed, and where he employs staff members to build many of the "props" that end up as part of his books. It reminded me a bit of looking into Santa's workshop!

Best of all, Walter has promised to let me interview him in the near future so he can be featured author/illustrator here on the AIIS blog. Yay!

The second author/illustrator of the day was Jon Klassen. Jon told the hilarious story of how he
received two phone calls the day he won two Caldecott awards (only the second person in history to have done so). He woke up to a call from his taxi waiting downstairs to take him to the airport. As he was jumping out of bed, the Caldecott committee called and told him he had won the award. As he hung up the phone, the taxi driver called again--anxious for him to get downstairs. As he hung up from that phone call, the phone rang again--the Caldecott committee again. They they then told him that another of his books won the Caldecott honor.

Jon, a warm and very funny speaker, shared with us his background in animation, even sharing a short film he completed in school (very cute and very funny!). He also told us a lot about the books he wrote and/or illustrated, This Is Not My HatI Want My Hat Back, and Extra Yarn, to name a few (and those few are all Caldecott Award or Honor winners!). He, too, has promised an featured author/illustrator interview with us here at the AIIS blog--yay!

It was an awesome kick-off for the summer conference! Stay tuned for more as the week progresses!

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