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TOM BIRDSEYE

BIOGRAPHY I BOOKS I PRESENTATIONS I BOOK ORDERING

AGE OF AUDIENCE:

I taught elementary school for 10 years (both primary and intermediate ages) and have written both novels and picture books, so I'm comfortable with elementary school students as well as middle schoolers and have experience speaking to K-12, teachers, librarians, and general adult audiences. Bottom line: I enjoy talking to any group that is interested in children's books.

 

THE SIZE OF EACH SESSION:

The size of the audience doesn't matter to me, as long as there is a good PA system. I've spoken to as many as 1,600, and as few as two.

 

EQUIPMENT NEEDED:

PA and two long tables to display my books on. That's it.

 

NUMBER OF SESSIONS PER DAY:

The simple answer is four per day.

 

However, I prefer to work closely with the coordinator to set up a schedule that works for them. Often this simply turns out to be four large group presentations, with kids divided by age. There is an alternate approach, though, that I'm finding very valuable:

 

Begin with 2 large group assemblies, (1 primary, 1 intermediate, 45-50 minutes each), then follow up with small group Q&A sessions (length of each determined by the number of students in the school minus kindergarten -- they aren't really ready developmentally -- but totalling no more than two hours). This way the kids hear my take on the writing process in the large group sessions, then go back to the classroom and discuss it, and with the teacher's help come up with questions that reflect exactly where they are in the writing process themselves. So when they return for the small group sessions, it's more interactive and I can tailor what I talk about specifically to meet their needs. The feedback I've gotten on this approach from kids, teachers, and principals has been very positive, and it doubles their time with me.

 

CONTENT OF PRESENTATIONS:

Given my teaching experience, I have a pretty good idea of what teachers want kids to hear from an author, and so I focus on the writing process, beginning with humorous stories of how I got this or that idea, then developed it into a scene, or chapter, or book. I discuss the importance of character development, and the choice of setting and its impact on the story. There is lots of emphasis on

rewriting, too, complete with drafts from various phases. And of course I answer questions and do a reading. My goal with all of the above is to be entertaining and fun, but more importantly to help demystify the writing process as much as possible, and give the kids concrete ideas on how they can approach it the next time they sit down in front of blank paper or a blank screen.

 

THEMES IN MY BOOKS THAT COULD BE TIED IN WITH CLASSROOM CURRICULUM:

 

The Eye of the Stone - self-esteem, peer pressure, race, religion, tolerance, cultural studies, father-son relationships.

 

I'm Going to be Famous - competition, friendship, honesty, fame, math: time and measurement.

 

Tucker - family, single parenting, divorce, sibling relationships, natural history.

 

Just Call Me Stupid - literacy, self-esteem, learning disabilities, friendship, schools, desert life.

 

Tarantula Shoes - moving, family, brothers and sisters, peer pressure, personal finances, tarantulas.

 

Airmail to the Moon - jumping to conclusions, problem solving, family, teeth, tooth fairy, figurative language, Appalachia.

 

Soap! Soap! Don't Forget the Soap! - folk tales, forgetfulness, perseverance, motherly love, figurative language, Appalachia.

 

A Regular Flood of Mishap - family, forgiveness, figurative language, Appalachia.

 

She'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain - friendship, figurative language, music, Appalachia.

 

A Kids' Guide to Building Forts - design and construction, following directions.

 

What I Believe: Kids Talk About Faith - religious perspectives, tolerance, global studies.

 

Under Our Skin: Kids Talk About Race - ethnic relations, tolerance, global studies.

 

COMMENTS FROM TEACHERS:

 

" . . . so many positive comments from teachers . . . we now have kids pulling out notebooks and furiously jotting down writing ideas throughout the day." - Connie Baker, Librarian, Hazelwood Elementary School, Renton, Washington

 

". . . fabulous presentations. Teachers reported that their students went back to class and wrote. What great inspiration!" - Karen Wedeking, Librarian, Beaverton, Oregon

 

" . . . a great workshop on writing for children. Clearly, every person felt she or he learned a lot and left feeling enthusiastic and energized." - Martha Moutray, Director - Writing Works Center, University of Arizona, Tucson

 

"A wonderful experience for students and staff; low-key, humorous style; answered questions at a level students understood" - Irene Golden, Principal, Corvallis, Oregon

"Background as a teacher was obvious . . . very entertaining and shows a great ability to gear the presentation to different age groups . . .very inspirational . . . I wholeheartedly recommend inviting Tom Birdseye to your school." - Catriona Moran, Principal, Nishihmachi International School, Tokyo, Japan

 

HONORARIUM:

Generally speaking, his fee is $1,250 a day, plus expenses. The honorarium should be presented following the last presentation on the last day.  For further information, especially about the expenses (travel, hotel, and meals), click the "Arrange An Appearance" button and see "General Information on the Cost of an Author Appearance" as well as the 'Honorariums' section near the bottom of "How to Plan an Author Appearance."