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Author Visit: Laurie Keller


Author visits: a wonderful perk of working in a school library. With all due respect to my bookseller friends (shout out to McLean & Eakin!), the author visit is like a booksigning that tosses the table aside and has a party. This year, we were excited to host Laurie Keller, author/illustrator of six picture books including, “The Scrambled States of America” and “Arnie the Doughnut” (both are entries in the “100 Scope Notes Required Reading” list (which has yet to be created, but just know those two will be included)). It was a good day.


The bonus of an author/illustrator visit? You get the authorial vibe along with the artistic element. Ms. Keller shared some behind-the-scenes notes and sketches from her books, photos from her home and studio, and gave the assembled students a sneak preview of the next book she’s illustrating, Me and My Animal Friends.

For the second act, students got to play along (hint: clipboards were involved. Hint #2: pencils as well). Ms. Keller taught students how to create some of the characters from her books, as well as a lesson on drawing different expressions. Here are some of the results:


A kindergarteners’ take on an otter from “Do Unto Otters“: not too shabby. Engaging, funny and entertaining all around, Laurie Keller’s visit was by all measures a success.

About Travis Jonker

Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at scopenotes@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.


  1. So when you were talking about the benefits of author visits, you were truly living the experience also! Laurie Keller?!! I love her picture books, and yes, Scrambled States of America should be on a required reading list!! :)

    Those students look so engaged!

  2. Scope Notes says:

    Fun was had by all, to be sure!