100 Scope Notes
Inside 100 Scope Notes

Instagramming an Author Visit: Ruth McNally Barshaw

Window decorated:

RMB Window

Signs created:

And hung:

RMB Signs

RMB Signs 2

Gift bag assembled. (Thank you Niki (a.k.a. Daydream Reader)):

RMB Gift Bag

Student book orders procured:

RMB Books

Let’s do this.

RMB Marquee

Yesterday author/illustrator Ruth McNally Barshaw visited our school. It was a good day.


Way back in aught eight, I read, loved, and reviewed Ellie McDoodle: Have Pen Will Travel (I forgot how nuts that review was – here’s to looking back!). Fast forward eight years, and there she was at our school.


She got right down to business, drawing with students:

RMB Kids

RMB Kid 1

RMB Kid 2

She hit on all kinds of stuff. She talked about her childhood, and how a caring art teacher changed her life by giving her a journal. She talked about her writing/drawing process, and how it’s all about revision. She showed some works in progress, and some ideas for kids to run with on their own.

She also enlisted the crowd to help create a story that she illustrated (at amazing speeds).

RMB Story

She even played us an Irish folk song on her oversized ECHO harmonica:


(Why did I not get a video of this?!?!)

It was a wonderful day – thank you Ruth McNally Barshaw for stopping by.

RMB Thank You

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. Wow! What a wonderful way to document an author visit!

  2. So fun to see Ruth here! I’ve been to a few of her presentations – so fun and inspiring for kids.

  3. Wonderfully rich report re: Ruth! Fortunate children to hear her Ruth speak. They’ll remember it all their lives.

  4. Well, of course, you’d have a wonderful day with Ruth! She’s da bomb! Plus, what a great way to document it all for your school. And for Ruth–hopefully, she’ll point folks your way to show what a great job she does. I know I will point out this posting to schools when they ask me for recommendations! Yay, Travis! Yay, Dorr Elem. and SLJ for highlighting it!!!


  5. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
    Charlie and I had a great time visiting your and Niki’s schools.
    And I very much appreciate these kind comments.

  6. How fun is this. I love the student drawings. Ruth’s presentations are wonderful.

  7. Elizabeth McBride says

    We had a marvelous time with Ruth McNally Barshaw at our elementary school too! She visited several years ago and we still remember the drawing, the stories, her unbelievable journaling, and how wonderfully accessible she was to our students! She answered all their questions, inspired them to write and draw, and to find the stories in their own lives. I only wish I had done such a good job documenting the event! Travis, your photos are wonderful!

  8. I still have the drawings I made when Ruth and Charlie visited Peter White Library in Marquette, MI many years ago. Her welcoming spirit and sense of adventure encouraged all of us — even the stick figure artists — to try. I know she impacts children this way too and in the process, gives them lifelong gifts.

  9. I love, love, love the photojournalism feel of this article. Perfect way to capture Ruth too! Her presentations are so visual and immersive for students.