"Doughnuts, potatoes, blades of grass...most of my characters are objects," noted visiting author and artist Laurie Keller. "I imagine what objects might be like if they were alive."
Laurie Keller, bestselling author and illustrator of Arnie the Doughnut, Potato Pants!, and more than a dozen books for young readers, spoke to PC through Group IV over the course of three assemblies on a recent sunny October day. "Have you ever had a doughnut get mad at you when you try to eat it?" A few hands were tentatively raised. Ms. Keller went on to offer some advice. "Here's what I do: I ask very quietly, 'Do you mind if I eat you?' They never do. And then I eat them."
Laurie Keller delighted her audiences with a read aloud of her newest picture book, Potato Pants!—the story of nervous Potato, hoping to buy a new pair of striped pants but too scared to go into the Potato Pants Store due a certain unfriendly Eggplant inside (the two had an unfortunate run-in involving a shove and a trash can). The author pointed out her own colorful striped "potato pants," chosen especially for the day's visit. "Potato would like these."
Laurie Keller kept the students on the move, having them perform the same stiff-armed robot dance as her main character (or a "Po-bot" dance, the potato version). She then led the students in an art lesson. The girls settled into comfortable drawing positions to create their own potato characters. "Draw a circle and then a line through the middle—for the pants," the author instructed. She also demonstrated doughnut drawings in the style of Arnie the Doughnut—and how to draw her signature baked good hero in a range of moods. "You can move around a line or two and get a whole new look," explained Laurie Keller. Some examples? Shocked doughnut: high eyebrows and circle mouth. Worried doughnut: a mouth shaped like a jelly bean. Sick doughnut: crossed eyes with heavy lids. At the end of the session, the student papers were covered with doughnuts of every mood.
One Group II student captured the sentiment of the room in her comment at the end of the assembly: "I would like to say that I am inspired. I wondered if I could be an author when I grow up?" With Laurie Keller's guidance, the Lower School students are already well on their way.