Author Laurie Keller visits MPES!

 Author and illustrator Laurie Keller came from Michigan to speak with kindergarteners and first and second graders about making books. Her visit was part of the school's March celebration of reading together, known as Pick a Reading Partner or PARP.

The children knew and loved Mrs. Keller's  work—particularly Arnie, the Doughnut,  starring a round, cakey, confection with a hole in the middle, iced and sprinkled. 

"I was inspired to write my first Arnie book in a Krispy Kreme doughnut shop," said Ms. Keller.  "I wondered if a doughnut ever got mad when a person tried to eat it." 

Laurie Keller’s newest picture book We Are Growing! is part of the “Elephant & Piggie Like Reading” series created by Mo Willems, best known for his Caldecott Honor winning picture books Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus and Knuffle Bunny: a cautionary tale.

“It also won the Theodor Seuss Geisel award,” Ms. Keller told the children. “Do you know who he is?”

“Dr. Seuss!!” they said.

Ms. Keller read the book to the children, pausing every so often to discuss haircuts, funny faces, and character motivation.

 “I write my stories over and over and I draw my drawings over and over, too,” said Ms. Keller. Her first book, Scrambled States of America, took her one month to create, but Do unto Otters—a book about the golden rule—took her five years. “I wanted to make my book on manners fun.”

"If you ever stuck when you need to write a story, drawing a character is a great way to start,"  said Ms. Keller. “Let’s draw an otter together.” Each child was given a clipboard, paper and a pencil, and followed along. 

Then, by popular demand, Ms. Keller drew Arnie, the Doughnut. 

Drawing with Laurie Keller

How to Draw an Otter

  1. Draw a long skinny shape like a peanut or a bowling pin.
  2. Make two circles with a dot in each middle for the eyes.
  3. Draw the letter U under the eyes.
  4. Draw a line through the middle of the U and color it in—you have a nose!
  5. Make the mouth under the nose, put it on the side for a funny look.
  6. Halfway down the long skinny body draw two lines on each side. These are the arms.
  7. Draw two lines that stick out of the end of each arm for the sides of the hands.
  8. Draw squiggly lines like little smiles hoked together at the end of the hands. These are the webbed fingers.
  9. On the bottom draw two short lines for each leg.
  10. Make the same squiggly lines for the sides of the feet and webbed toes.

We Are Growing!

Arnie, the Doughnut