Sunday, August 18, 2013

Happy Birthday Jared Lee - August 19

Happy Birthday Jared Lee - August 19

My daughter has been looking forward to finding out who would be her third grade teacher since the last week in May! It has always been a big deal for her to find out her teacher for the upcoming school year, but this year is a little more exciting because she is heading to a new school building within the district. The only teachers she knows are the few that she met during an introductory visit to her new school with her classmates at the end of last school year. On that visit she picked a teacher who she thought would be perfect to have for third grade. I tried to prepare her with the questions, "What if it is someone else? What if it is one of the teacher's you haven't met?"

This week the letter came in the mail.

She did not get the teacher that she thought would be perfect. She didn't even recognize her new teacher's name. (Mom and Dad recognized the name and were very happy!) We assured her that she will enjoy being in her class and will have lots of fun learning many new things.

My oldest son also received a letter informing him of his Kindergarten teacher. It was also a name he didn't recognize and throughout the week he learned that all of his good friends from preschool were placed in other classes. He said somewhat sadly this week, "I don't know anybody that's going to be in my class this year."  We assured him that he doesn't know that for sure and that even if he doesn't know any of the kids in his class he is going to make new friends in addition to his friends from preschool.  We also assured him that he will still see his old friends every day at lunch, recess, and in the neighborhood.

There is so much anxiety for children revolving around that first day of school, at least in my house! My children turned to someone who has been through this whole thing before; Hubie from The Teacher from the Black Lagoon by Mike Thaler and Jared Lee. Poor Hubie didn't find out that he had Mrs. Green until he got to school on the first day! He heard that she was "supposed to be a real MONSTER!" Hubie's imagination conjures up many terrifying thoughts while he waits for Mrs. Green to enter the classroom for the first time, but when the bell rings everything turns out fine. Now, if my children get nervous as we take those ceremonial "First Day of School" pictures I can say, "If Hubie can do it, you can do it," and I am positive that will calm their nerves.

Jared Lee is illustrator of over 80 books including the popular Black Lagoon series written by Mike Thaler and the There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed series written by Lucille Colandro.  Jared Lee was six years old when he spent a year in bed recovering from a kidney ailment and his imagination helped passed the time by drawing. (Scholastic Storybook Treasures DVD). Then, at the young age of 13 his parents introduced him to Herron Art School where he later earned his degree. After college, he started his career illustrating greeting cards, magazines, and advertisements. He was one of six illustrators that created the first Happy Meal boxes for McDonalds (click here to view a picture of his design). Lee teamed up with Mike Thaler which he described as his "big break" for A Hippopotamus Ate the Teacher and it sold over 1,000,000 copies. (Dayton Daily News).  Later, the team collaborated on the Black Lagoon Series that has sold over 15,000,000 copies.  Jared Lee encourages children to use their imagination instead of imitating and copying popular characters. "Draw your own mouse. Draw your own duck. Create your own monster. The one thing I like about what I do with the Black Lagoon series is I get to create the monsters I want to create. Whatever pops out of my head, that's what comes out." (Scholastic Storybook Treasures DVD).

Late Sunday morning, my kids discovered The Teacher from the Black Lagoon Scholastic Storybook Treasures DVD which includes animated versions of three of the Black Lagoon books and has interviews with Mike Thaler and Jared Lee.  While they watched and enjoyed the DVD, I asked my wife who was on the computer, "Where is the nearest lagoon?"
She found the Mentor Lagoons within 45 minutes of our house near Lake Erie.  We packed lunches and were off on afternoon adventure.
We parked the car and right in front of us was a Little Free Library.
We left one of our Black Lagoon books for someone to enjoy along with a note to let the reader know that Jared Lee's birthday is August 19th!
My oldest son was so excited to share!
It was time to embark on a hike where I told my children to be on the lookout for a creature like Mrs. Green.  
They showed their scared faces as we entered the woods.
This looked like a perfect place for Mrs. Green to emerge from the lagoon, but we didn't find her here.
We found lots of evidence of creatures including this strange footprint!
This spot looked like the perfect home for a monster.
My youngest son carried his Black Lagoon book on the whole hike.
He was sure he was going to find a monster in the lagoon. He even showed us which one he was going to find in his book.
This looked like the creepiest spot, and the most likely place that a creature-teacher would live, but we didn't see one.  (Boy, was he upset too!  He even cried about not finding a monstrer later at home. "Why we no find monster at lagoon?" It is amazing how intense the imaginations of young children can be!)
The best part about a lagoon is that once you cross a narrow strip of land you come to a bigger body of water.
Lake Erie!! They couldn't get their shoes off fast enough!
My youngest enjoyed tossing the little pebbles that covered the beach.
My oldest daughter was inspired to take out her sketchbook.
What a beautiful afternoon at the lagoon!
I want to wish all the teachers, parents, and children a happy and productive start to the new school year! May your school year be filled with smiles, accomplishments, and friendships!

Check out Jared Lee's latest book, SCREAM TEAM #4 by Bill Doyle and his next release THERE WAS AN OLD LADY WHO SWALLOWED STICKER BOOK by Lucille Colandro:

1. Jared Lee's Website
2. Interviews - Herron School of Art
3. Biography - Scholastic
4. Black Lagoon Teacher's Guide - ABDO publishing
5. Class Election from the Black Lagoon Teacher's Guide - Scholastic
6. Jared Lee's Zondervan Books

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