New Castle News

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April 16, 2014

Arthur the author: Children’s writer/illustrator visits Neshannock Elementary

NEW CASTLE — A story about a grandmother and her granddaughter flying over a city grew from the vivid imagination of children’s author Arthur Dorros.

“Abuela” also spurred the creativity of students at Neshannock Memorial Elementary School who had eagerly awaited a visit from Dorros yesterday.

Hallways were lined with murals featuring various scenes from the book. A sky with clouds was created in the lobby. A sign in Spanish welcomed the visitor. Balloons were fashioned into objects like a ship sailing on water.

Students and members of the PTO created the designs, and all the preparation pleased Dorros immensely.

“It was exceptional what they did to get ready for me,” he said before the event started, later adding, “I’ve been to a lot of schools and this is the best welcome I’ve received. You guys made a lot of fun things from the books.”

The kids were ready. And eager.

First-grader Emma Wilt said she was “really excited” about Dorros’ visit and loved the decorations because they were so colorful.

“And he speaks Spanish,” Emma pointed out.

“The decorations are very cool,” noted third-grader Dani Memo, “because you can’t usually do a lot with balloons.”

Both youngsters said “Abuela” was a favorite book that Dorros has written.

Second-graders did a welcome song in Spanish and learned it from music teacher Darci Wise. First-graders danced to “The Banana Boat Song” and were instructed by physical education teacher Mindy Nichols.

Once Dorros began, he had a captive audience.

The Seattle resident is the author and illustrator of more than 30 books including “Animal Talk,” “A Tree is Growing” “Isla” and “Rain Forest Secrets.” His latest endeavor is “Animals Talk.”

Dorros performed — pulling masks from his pocket, showing photographs projected onto a screen, injecting humor into the mix, and even making sounds of a printing press and a drum beat.

As he donned a chef’s hat, he compared writing to cooking — “You add a little idea here and a little idea there like you mix things when you cook.

“I like to tell stories,” he said, adding he believes everyone has stories to tell.

He also talked about the process of writing.

A trip to an alligator farm at age 4 helped inspire him to compose stories. Consequently, he wrote, “Alligator Shoes.”

He encouraged the students to find their own ideas, which he said, are all around them.

“There are a lot of things to discover in the world and a lot to write about.”

Dorros, who has always enjoyed reading, also shared photos of lands he has visited.

Yesterday’s appearance was a collaboration between Neshannock and Westminster College. The latter was represented by Liz Ishman and Mike Pandolph of Kappa Delta Pi, the education honor society, and Dr. Alison DuBois, assistant professor of educational counseling. Kristy Perrotta, reading specialist at Neshannock, was instrumental in organizing the event,

“We were very fortunate to have this experience,” Perrotta explained, “and I hope this inspires some students to become writers and illustrators.”

(Email: lhudson@ncnewsonline.com.)

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