Second and third grade students at Todd Elementary School in the Briarcliff Manor School District recently welcomed New York Times bestselling author/illustrator Nick Bruel, who delighted each class with his personality and literary expertise. A Tarrytown resident acclaimed for his picture books, graphic novels and chapter books, Bruel is best known for his popular series “Bad Kitty,” a favorite among young readers.
Sporting a “Bad Kitty” necktie, Bruel read his original “Bad Kitty” picture book while pointing out several literary techniques, including alliteration and repetition. Audience participation was an intrinsic part of the presentation, as he encouraged students to develop their own class story by brainstorming, selecting an animal as their main character and keying in on a particular emotion in which to portray their character – for example, “the Crazy Panda Bear.”
After a compelling question-and-answer period, complete with a mini-art lesson, Bruel revealed his “secret to learning how to draw.” He encouraged the children to begin by copying existing artwork, such as comics. “Read as much as possible!” he encouraged the classes. “Ask yourself, ‘Why do I like this so much?’ Then use that information.”
Bruel has published 13 books and expects “Bad Kitty Meets the Author” to be released next January. “The presentation was really fun!” commented Todd student Katie Lynch. “My favorite part was when he showed us the book – it was really funny.”
The author provided CDs with animation exercises from which the students can learn. Much to the children’s delight, the CDs included a recipe for “chicken cheesecake” and a photo of “yak yogurt,” both favorites of Bad Kitty. Bruel also donated copies of a “Bad Kitty” book.
Media specialist Tara Phethean and Todd PTA members Nance Dickinson and Lauren Safian organized Bruel’s visit to the elementary school.