Seeing no hands shoot up, Ms. Reidy told the children, “Imagination is so important.” The engaging and entertaining author of such titles as Pup 681, All Through My Town and Truman went on to explain her process, which focuses on four key ingredients: dream, write, revise, and illustrate.
“I’ve always been a daydreamer,” she told them. “Sometimes a story just pops into my head, and sometimes I’m inspired by something I’ve seen or done, nearby or faraway. I was inspired by a sea otter at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, where I used to live, to write Pup 681. And, I was inspired by children in Africa to write Light Up the Night.”
Ms. Reidy loves to write, and it takes a lot of writing to get from a daydream to a bestseller. “Creating a mess is part of my process,” she told the students. “Once I find my story, I type it into my computer, then I rewrite and rewrite so many times.”
With 11 published books and six more in the works, Ms. Reidy has worked with several illustrators. She is in awe of their talents and encouraged students to be art detectives. “The pictures tell over half the story,” she said. “No matter how young or old you are, you have to know how to read the artwork.”
Ms. Reidy, who writes from her home in Colorado, is a three-time winner of the Colorado Book Award, a Parent’s Choice Gold Award Winner, a Charlotte Zolotow Honor winner and recognized on “Best of” lists by School Library Journal, the New York Times, NPR and Amazon.
The special event was made possible by Lead Librarian Ashleigh Finn. “I was excited to give our kids the experience of an author visit this year, and we couldn’t have had a better virtual experience than with Jean,” she said. “Her presentation was dynamic and engaging, and it was clear she knew her audience well! I love how she encouraged our students to pay attention to their head, heart, and world in order to dream and witness the stories around them. Her overall message to our young readers and writers was inspiring.”