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WHERE ARE MY BOOKS? Book Tour (Part 4, North Carolina): Irving Park Elementary, New Garden Friends School, Scuppernong, why I love talking to K-4 readers

Part 1 (Larry The Driver) – Part 2 (IL: Carol Stream, Science & Arts Academy, Avoca West, Anderson’s Bookshop) – Part 3 (IL: Peterson Elementary, River Woods, Media Escorts) – Part 4 (NC: Irving Park, New Garden Friends, Scuppernong) – Part 5 (NJ: Lincoln Elementary, Hillside Elementary, Books Bytes & Beyond) – Part 6 (NJ: Allentown Library, Monmouth Library) – Part 7 (NJ: Learning Community Charter School, WORD Bookstore, board gaming) – Part 8 (Wrap up + takeaways)

Melanie Mendenhall introduces me at Irving Park Elementary. Photo: Kira Larson.

The next morning in Greensboro, NC, my driver and I arrived at the school early. Which made me very happy; I FAR prefer being early than late or just barely on time…less stress, and it gives me a chance to get my bearings and breathe. I asked him to find somewhere peaceful to wait and he discovered this beautiful park:

We both stretched out legs, got some fresh air. So wonderful to start the day in such a beautiful setting, with the birds singing and sun-dappled shadows all around. 

Kira Larson, my contact at Scuppernong Books, came to greet me when we arrived at Irving Park Elementary. Kira had left Scuppernong since I had interviewed her for my blog, but was kind enough to accompany me anyway; thanks to Kira for taking photos during my school visits, too! I also enjoyed meeting Irving Park Elementary Media Specialist, Melanie Mendenhall:

Melanie Mendenhall and Kira Larson at Irving Park Elementary

While we were waiting for all the classes to arrive, I started doodling on the flipchart easel. One of the students came over to greet me and I decided to sketch her:

I had great fun doing two presentations at Irving Park Elementary, and the audience of young readers was super-enthusiastic. Yay for books and reading! I had fun chatting with some of the students in the front rows as the others were filing in for each presentation.

Also had a wonderful time with my presentations at New Garden Friends School:

Talking to students at New Garden Friends School (Greensboro, NC). Photo: Kira Larson.During my book tour, I talked to groups of many different sizes. I don’t have as much in-person public speaking experience as some other authors/illustrators so was expecting to be super-nervous in front of the larger crowds. 

What I discovered, however: When I was talking about something that I cared about, I tended to forget about being nervous and focused on connecting with my young audience instead, to help them see why I was so excited and why they should be, too.

I especially love talking with the K-4 age group. They are so honest and upfront in their reactions and affections.

With Michele Larson at New Garden Friends School (Greensboro, NC). Photo: Kira Larson (Michele is Kira’s Mom!).

Thanks to Michele Larson, Erin, Meg and the other faculty for making me feel so welcome. Check out the great welcome sign above! They also presented me with a very cool New Garden Friends backpack and a mug. I used the backpack to carry some of my gear to my Toronto book launch a week later.

After my presentations at New Garden Friends, I headed to Scuppernong Books, a lovely bookstore and cafe. The cafe serves organic coffee and espresso, wine and beer, and fresh sandwiches and sides all made in-house. Co-owner Brian Lampkin saw me taking a photo of the sign mentioning my name out front and came out to greet me:

Brian made me a sandwich and I had one of their specialty green teas while I waited for my session time. YUM. Thanks to the adults and children who came out to see me! I especially enjoyed meeting Caroline and her family:

Caroline and I had already been interacting via Twitter and other social media. Her children had made me this adorable card:

And it was also great to meet Ena Jones; Ena and I have the same literary agent: the awesome Ginger Knowlton of Curtis Brown. Ena’s book, Clayton Stone, At Your Service debuts this fall from Holiday House!

My Music Express driver had strongly advised me to leave Scuppernong a bit earlier than planned in order to catch my flight from Piedmont to NYC; if there was heavy traffic, I might not make it. Happily, traffic was okay and I arrived at Piedmont International Airport with a bit of time to spare. 

Another driver was waiting for me when I landed at LaGuardia:

Ordinarily I would have chatted more with the driver, but I was pretty wiped; I nodded off a couple times in the car. It had been a fun day, but very busy. 🙂 I went to bed very soon after checking in.

Continued in Part 5…