The Ellis School was delighted to host author and illustrator Victoria Jamieson for Author Day on Friday, April 27. A Newbery Honor-winning author of graphic novels Roller Girland All’s Faire in Middle School, Victoria spoke to Lower and Middle School students, signed dog-eared and well-loved copies of her books, and hosted an interactive creative writing and drawing workshop for the sixth grade.
Victoria began her day with Ellis girls in kindergarten through grade 8 and shared stories of her own childhood as well as the first book she ever wrote. Her stories and time spent with students were marked by humor, humility, and spunk. She discussed how her books have mostly been inspired by real-life events—even if the main character is a pig or a hamster—that she’s sprinkled with fiction and updated with new character names. For instance, her own love of the Olympics inspired Olympig!, her own experiences playing roller derby inspired Roller Girl, and her childhood move to a new school in Florida inspired the events of All’s Faire in Middle School.
After hearing how Victoria draws inspiration for her characters, plotlines, and settings, students pulled out their pencils for an interactive drawing lesson. They drew the faces of Boomer the Pig from Olympig! and Astrid from Roller Girl while Victoria called out instructions and demoed her own process for students. “Remember when you’re drawing, you need to practice over and over again,” Victoria said as she shared that she will usually draw an illustration multiple times before she’s happy with it. “Don’t overcomplicate it!” she added with a smile.
Following the morning’s talk, Victoria signed books for students and hosted a hands-on writing workshop for the sixth grade. In the workshop, Victoria led the class in a graphic novel boot camp that showed students how to craft characters, draw realistic emotions, and create storylines vivid with imagery that jump off the page. Students then wrote short stories using the prompt “I remember when…” and Victoria’s tips and tricks—like starting an illustration with a stick figure— to spark ideas for their own graphic novels.
A unique and spirited way to supplement the English curriculum at Ellis, Victoria’s visit on Author Day enriched students understanding of literature, authorship, and the writing process. By learning from an accomplished female author like Victoria firsthand, students were inspired to stretch themselves creatively as they sharpened their writing and drawing skills outside of the traditional classroom construct.