On March 20, the School welcomed 2,500 Grades 3 – 5 students from public and private schools across the area to hear from New York Times bestselling children's author and illustrator Jarrett Krosoczka as part of the 2019 Virginia Festival of the Book.
Krosoczka, author of Hey, Kiddo, has more than thirty published books to his credit. He is a two-time winner of the Children's Choice Book Awards Third to Fourth Grade Book of the Year and has been a Will Eisner Comic Industry Award finalist. He detailed to the assembled students and teachers how he grew up being creative and using his free to write stories and illustrate his own comics, eventually leading to a comic strip in his high school paper followed by college courses in writing, color, drawing, and painting.
"Words and pictures are teammates that come together to tell a story," he said. "The illustrations are not there to be pretty decorations, they are there to tell the story and help you understand what is happening. They are as important as words in telling the story."
In fact, it was an illustration rather than a manuscript that landed Krosoczka his first book deal. After sending out postcards with one illustration from his manuscript of Goodnight Monkey Boy, publisher Random House Children's Books got in touch to find out more. They went on to publish the story, and Krosoczka authored and illustrated his beloved Lunch Ladygraphic novel series (eight years from idea to production), Punk Farm, and Platypus Police Squad chapter books, among others, before writing and publishing Hey Kiddo, a young adult/teen graphic novel memoir of his childhood raised by grandparents while his mother fought a heroin addiction.
For Krosoczka, books and stories were a huge part of this childhood, and he recounted for the audience some of his favorite literature including Roald Dahl's James and the Giant Peach, Dr. Seuss' The Sneetches and Other Stories, and Beverly Cleary's The Mouse and the Motorcycle, as well as newspaper comics and anthologies of Calvin & Hobbes and Snoopy.
"Don't let your love of one kind of reading hold you back from other materials," he advised. "That happened to me with Anne of Green Gables. I looked at the cover and thought 'this is going to be really boring' but then I read it and loved it and read the entire series on my own."