100 Scope Notes
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Hey! A Day with Shea in 10(ish) Images

Author/illustrator Robert “Bob” Shea visited my school yesterday and I am here to bring you the sights and sounds. Actually, just the sights. And wordy descriptions of the sights. But they were good sights.

First sight:

Photo May 20, 8 22 30 AM

This here is certified Shea Day plaid. Rumor has it that Mr. Shea enjoys a good tartan. I decided to celebrate the day through my wardrobe. Call me old-fashioned.

I laid each of my plaid shirts on my bed and used a Ouija board planchette to guide me. It was a little tricky – the planchette refused to glide smoothly on cloth – but it eventually pointed me to the perfect choice.

Second sight(s):

Photo May 20, 8 02 01 AM

Photo May 20, 8 02 06 AM

Photo May 20, 8 01 53 AM

Photo May 20, 8 01 57 AM

Window chalk time. I did my best Shea-creations™ on out library windows to mark the event.

Third sight:

Photo May 19, 10 44 00 AM

Letters to herald Mr. Shea’s arrival. It’s the least I could do.

Wait, that’s not accurate. The least I could do is nothing, so this was definitely more than the least, but also not the most (see this post for the most that can be done).

Fourth sight:

Photo May 20, 12 47 32 PM

Here are the letters in action.

Fifth sight:

Photo May 20, 12 54 24 PM

Mr. Shea arrived and got things ready for his presentation. Before we get into how he charmed the assembled crowd of students and teachers, I need to tell you that he has a cool setup that the world should be aware of. He runs his slides off of this iPad mini on a tripod. Then he flips it around and…

Sixth sight:

Photo May 20, 10 01 00 AM

He projects his drawing so that everyone can see. Authors and illustrators – if you want to use this method, Mr. Shea has asked that you speak to him to negotiate a royalty agreement that is agreeable to both parties.

Now that we have that out of the way, on to the…

Seventh sight:

Photo May 20, 9 33 10 AM

If you work in a school, you know that gyms can be a tricky place for a presentation. Bob did a great job engaging the whole audience as he read Ballet Cat and the Totally Secret Secret, talked about how a book is made (encouraging kids to keep trying, even when the going gets rough), and sharing a story in sketch form (The Delicious Mystery) that I hope becomes a finished book someday.

Also engaging was when he asked students to raise their hands if they wanted him to dunk a grapefruit on the basketball hoop behind him. Vertical leap, it turns out, is another of Shea’s many talents.

Eighth sight:

Photo May 20, 1 48 38 PM

At this point in the presentation Bob took art direction from a student as he showed how to draw some of his characters. Together this pair ran through the greatest hits – Unicorn, Buddy, and of course…

Ninth sight:


Photo May 20, 2 52 54 PM

But then things got serious…

Tenth sight:

Photo May 20, 10 15 18 AM (1)

The presentation concluded with a student Q and A, artfully shot in black and white because Bob wanted to look “artsy” the situation called for it. There were no jokes or kidding around at all during this time as Mr. Shea took questions from the audience. It was a just a very, very serious period of time with no humor or laughing.

After a wonderful book signing, it was time for Mr. Shea to catch a plane.

This was the final stop on Bob’s Ballet Cat tour, and it was a good one.

Make that great.

As I understand it, Bob is now relaxing at Shea Estate in Connecticut. Well earned, my friend, well earned.

Thank you Bob Shea for visiting my school. Thank you Mary Ann Zissimos for orchestrating the event.

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. Excellent, Travis!

  2. Travis, I’m totally impressed with your window art. Stellar job! What fun it all must’ve been :D