100 Scope Notes
Inside 100 Scope Notes

Instagraming an Author/Illustrator Visit: Kenneth Kraegel

I know that an author or illustrator visit is not something that every school can swing. So each year I have to rub my eyes, blink a couple times, rub them again (repeat, if necessary), and make sure that what I’m seeing is real – we get the chance to host a children’s book creator.

This year Kenneth Kraegel, author/illustrator of King Arthur’s Very Great Grandson visited three of my schools. With tons of help from my library assistants and the cooperation of teachers, a good time was had by all involved. Here’s how it all went down…

Nothing says welcome like saying “welcome”. We greeted Mr. Kraegel on the school marquee, and I think it should be added to all author visit checklists from here on out. Sets a nice tone, I think.

I’m no Schu-level expert, but one thing I will say is that for a successful author visit, familiarity is key. Before the big day, we prepped students by talking about the visit, reading King Arthur’s Very Great Grandson to students, and hanging up “He’s coming!” displays.

One of the cool parts of an author visit is turning kids on to new books. We worked with local independent bookseller Pooh’s Corner to fill student orders.

You smell that? It’s a giant book cover, hot off the laminator. Just in time to hang up for Mr. Kraegel’s backdrop.

This was one of my favorite parts of the author visit prep. We had kindergarten students create their interpretations of the mythical monsters in King Arthur’s Very Great Grandson. The results were outstanding, and fun to share with Ken.

Lamination scent worn off, we hung the giant cover along (and the student artwork) behind the presentation area.

Gif time! We cleared out all the tables and chairs to make way for the man of the hour to talk about making books.

Ken hit on all aspects of creating a book – writing, illustrating, and perhaps most importantly, persistence.

This just in: kids like to laugh. Ken is no stranger to this fact an included some nice touches of humor to keep the youngsters engaged. Here he’s showing a progression of slides showing his emotions after submitting King Arthur’s Very Great Grandson to publishers. Happy to sad and back again, students were eating it up.

If over 150 episodes of VH1’s Behind the Music has taught us anything, it’s to never underestimate the power of getting a look behind the scenes. Here Ken enlists the aid of a student to compare original artwork to how it appears in the finished book. Notice the craning of necks.

Presentation over, Ken signed books for students before doing it all over again.

An excellent couple of days. Many thanks to Kenneth Kreagel for visiting!

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. What a great idea for sharing your author visit! I love seeing the room fill with eager children. Thanks for sharing this!

  2. I like that book. And I look forward to his next one.

    Lucky students!

    • Travis Jonker says

      He mentioned that he’s in the midst of a new one, but was keeping it under wraps for the time being. I’ll be looking forward to it as well.

  3. Looks like a very successful author visit! Kudos to you for preparing the kids so well!!