Walla Walla Kids Read creator responds to questions

Local author Patrick Carman started Walla Walla Kids Read six years ago.

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Carman

WALLA WALLA — The 2013 Walla Walla Kids Read takes place today and Tuesday at Cordiner Hall on the Whitman College campus. Over the two days, children in first through fifth grades will hear two bestselling children’s authors present on their craft and the power of literature.

Matthew Holm, animator and co-creator of the “Babymouse” series of graphic novels for children will present to first-, second- and third-graders on Tuesday. Local author Patrick Carman speaks with fourth- and fifth-graders about his popular books and series today.

The program concludes with a community event from 6-8 p.m. Tuesday at Edison Elementary, where families can meet the authors and take part in activities.

Besides being a presenter this year, Carman is also the founder of Walla Walla Kids Read, established six years ago to share his love of reading and writing with community youths. The goal of the annual event is to instill a similar appreciation for literature in youths through exposure to mainstream writers.

Carman spoke with the Union-Bulletin over the weekend following a whirlwind tour promoting his new young adult novel “Pulse,” in Texas, where he spoke at more than a dozen events over four days.

Q: What’s new about this year’s WWKR event?

A: I’ve never done it. This is our sixth year, and I’ve never been one of the speakers. I think maybe eight months ago I started looking at different writers, and I thought that if for each grade-school kid, if they saw me once (during the span of the program), it wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world. I have been to schools randomly over the years, but a lot of the kids who are seeing me now have never heard me speak.

Q: What’s it like being involved with something for six years, and getting to present for the first time?

A: I’m like Oz, behind the curtain. It will be great. I just got back yesterday afternoon from a week in Texas. I did 18 public appearances in four days. Lots of big, big groups of kids. I love talking with young readers, and it will be fun. It’s a pleasure and it is an honor to be able to talk with groups of kids, especially here in Walla Walla, my hometown.

Q: How else is the program different this year, and how did that come about?

A: The big difference this year is not having kindergarten. On Tuesday I’ll go and speak to all the kindergartners in town, and talk a little bit about the program. The (Holm) books are also slightly old for a kindergartner. We also just felt for a while that kindergarten is fantastic, but they’re the hardest to get in and get out. They’re so little and they’re so young, to have to sit for 35 or 40 minutes. We did some polling with teachers and principals, and we all concluded that if I come and see them and they feel like they’re included then that works.

Q: What can children expect from Matthew Holm?

A: He does all of the illustrations for the series of books called “Babymouse.” I see the books everywhere I go. In certain places they are wildly popular. They are very, very popular in Walla Walla. Most kids know about them. And he’s pretty young, sort of the hip young guy, and the process by which he does his books is unique. He will do a great job with kids. I’m sure he’ll do some drawing on stage. I’m sure there will be great images.

Q: Why do you stress the importance of writing to kids?

A: It’s one of the first ways when they get out into the world that people will judge them. It’s a piece of the puzzle that they really need to be serious about. The things they’re going to learn from me on Monday will be super easy, fun things that will keep them motivated and make them better writers.

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