Once a year for the past few years, I get to take my daughters to a Young Author’s Conference that is hosted at a local elementary school. This year was extra special since I was able to bring two of my daughters.
We had a big group of children that were broken up into three smaller groups and rotated between listening to a published author of children’s books talk about their books and their writing and illustration process, then breaking out into smaller groups to read the stories they wrote, and then having lunch while listening to a storyteller or watching a magic act.
We listened to author Peter Roop discuss his books, mostly historical fiction and fiction.
He read from his book Keep The Light Burning.
On his author page there is a review of that historical fiction piece from School Library Journal:
Based on a true story of an 1856 storm off the coast of Maine, Abbie’s tale is one of endurance and bravery. When her father, the lighthouse keeper, sails off for supplies, he leaves Abbie in charge of lighting the oil lamps in the twin towers of their lighthouse and making sure that they don’t go out. When a huge storm hits, preventing her father from returning for four weeks, Abbie keeps those lamps burning, getting up several times each night to climb the towers to check them, scraping ice from the windows so the lights can be seen at sea. In the course of the storm, she also rescues her chickens from a huge wave, thus saving the family’s only source of food. The Roops allow the natural drama of Abbie’s story to emerge … An author’s note gives the interesting historical basis of the story, but the tale stands alone as an exciting account of a young girl’s courage. The vivid watercolor paintings are highly effective in detailing Abbie’s job as well as creating atmosphere. All in all, one of the best historical beginning-to-reads a refreshing cold blast of salty real life.
From there we broke out into small groups for the kids to read their stories:
My middle daughter, the one who was formerly selectively mute, read her story about a girl who came back from the future to warn her younger self that she had to help a boy stand up for himself and not be bullied because when he was grown up, the bullying at school turned him into a mean, unhappy adult who became a leader that made everyone else miserable.
My youngest told a story about her going camping with her two friends and saving a baby deer from a wolf.
Then we listened to a wonderful storyteller in the cafeteria while we ate our lunch. He was fantastic and you can tell he loves his work.
I loved his voice and his gestures.
He really loved to make all kinds of facial expressions.
He was definitely, unabashedly funny.
He was so much fun. I had thoroughly enjoyed listening to him and was so glad he was here this year. We smiled throughout the storytelling.
I found some great video uploads of his storytelling that I thought I’d share with you.
I hope you enjoy them as much as we did.
My youngest daughter, who was a bit resistant to having to write a story, said to me, “Mama, thank you SO much for FORCING me to write a story so I could go. I had so much fun!”
I had to smile at that. I did kind of feel bad I was making her do something she initially found unpleasant, and am so glad I was able to help her write her story so she could go.
I was so grateful for the comic relief. Life has been pretty low on fun lately, and I needed some lightening up.