Newbery Honor and Bluebonnet award-winning graphic novelist Victoria Jamieson gave students at Buice Elementary School at glimpse into how she approaches her craft.
Jamieson is the author and/or illustrator of eight books and is working on a ninth. Some include the award-winning “Roller Girl,” “All’s Faire in Middle School,” “Pest in Show,” “Olympig,” and “Bea Rocks the Flock.”
Principal Alicia Press said 650 students in grades kindergarten through fifth grade had a chance to see Jamieson.
She told an audience of second and third-graders that she’s writing another book, but it’s top secret right now.
Through a presentation involving drawing, talking to youngsters and answering their questions, Jamieson told students Wednesday how they can create graphic novels or comic strips just based on their everyday lives.
In her book “All’s Faire in Middle School,” the main character, 11-year-old Imogene, or “Impy,” navigates her way through middle school and parents who work for the Renaissance Faire.
Jamieson moved from Pennsylvania to Florida in middle school. “All’s Faire” has a seventh-grade biology teacher that resembles a dragon and bullies that look like big hairy monsters.
She said the worst part of starting middle school was lunch because seating wasn’t assigned anymore and she had to sit with her friends, which she didn’t have at that point.
Like her character in “All’s Faire,” Jamieson said her parents lived to embarrass her. She wanted to get the sneakers everyone was wearing, but her mother said they were too expensive, so she got knockoffs. The students made fun of her because they weren’t the same, so she tried to correct it with a blue ballpoint pen, but that didn’t work either.
Jamieson advised students who want to create their own graphic novels to read a lot of graphic novels. She added that they could write a comic about their day at school, a funny story that they and their friends make up or what their family did over the weekend.
As an 11-year-old, Jamieson said she kept a journal that she illustrated. She rereads it to recall what she was thinking back then.
She noted that keeping a journal is good practice for becoming a writer.
One of the hardest parts about being a graphic novelist is having to draw the main character over and over again, Jamieson said, so she keeps the shapes simple.
A big part of her job as an artist is to trick people into seeing something, like the braids her main character Astrid wears.
She offered pointers on drawing hands and faces.
Her brainstorming process also includes drawing characters with noticeable expressions or emotion on their faces, which she did for the students.
Press said last year when the Bluebonnet competition was going on for the district, her students voted on which Bluebonnet book was their favorite and the overwhelming choice was “Roller Girl.”
Jamieson, who earned a bachelor of fine arts in illustration from Rhode Island School of Design, penned her first book in third grade as part of a class assignment.
Called “Super Cow,” she said it is still her mother’s favorite book but it lives in her mother’s closet. Writing and illustrating the book gave her a lot of confidence, Jamieson said.
The campus contacted Jamieson last year and it took about a year to arrange for her appearance Wednesday, Press said.
“I think it’s critical for us to give them an authentic experience with authors, illustrators, the publishing process (and) the writing process …,” Press added.
Students enjoyed the visit and are big fans of Jamieson’s work.
Holding on to the books she wanted Jamieson to autograph for her, eight-year-old third-grader Molly Shefchik said she enjoyed the presentation because it helped her learn how to draw new things.
“I want to be an artist when I grow up one day. She just really helped me with my drawing and stuff,” Shefchik said.
She added that she loves to meet new people, especially authors because she loves reading.
Nine-year-old third-grader Jared Carrasco said he thought Jamieson was really funny.
He said Buice Media Specialist Christie Shefchik has been reading “The Great Art Caper” and he likes that one.
Carrasco said Jamieson is not the first author he’s met.
“But it feels really cool because they write books I like,” he said.