Monday, October 6, 2014

Happy Birthday, Andrea Beaty - October 7

Happy Birthday, Andrea Beaty - October 7

Today, I am changing things up a bit. I am writing this birthday blog post a little different than all the others. Usually, my family has read all the books and completed our reading experience (or what I sometimes call an author birthday celebration activity) before I begin writing. However, our weekend was crazy and packed full of family obligations which pushed our reading experience out to the day before Andrea Beaty's birthday. I usually write a blog post over the course of three days after our family reading experience; Day 1 is research, Day 2 is rough draft, and Day 3 is revision. In order to give myself the time to revise, I needed to start writing this post before our reading experience. (Keeping my fingers crossed that my activity idea would work out as planned!)

Andrea Beaty is the author of a dozen books for children including Hush, Baby Ghostling and Iggy Peck Architect. Her writing career did not begin right out of college where she studied biology and computer science. Instead, she started working as a computer technical support representative. Later, she spent time as a technical writer which she credits with helping her become a "fierce self-editor," a skill vital to a children's picture book author. ( According to the Prairie Wind SCBWI newsletter her next job, becoming a mom, "was the best job of all except for the diapers. Diapers really stink. Really. Trust me."

Maybe it was the fumes from the diapers or the craziness of being a mom but "voices started" in her head which she turned into characters and stories perfect for children. Thankfully, Andrea Beaty wrote down what the voices were saying about "giants, pirates, and slugs". (Cynsations). It was a book idea about giants that got her started on her way as a children's book author when her story When Giants Come to Play won a SCBWI Work-in-Progress grant in 2000.  It was later published with illustrations from Kevin Hawkes in 2006. Andrea's next book was Iggy Peck Architect, illustrated by David Roberts. Iggy Peck later inspired Rosie Revere, Engineer which has been on the New York Times Bestseller list for 29 weeks! Andrea said, in an interview with Authors Revealed, "I'd never set out to have a theme in the work I do. But, I've noticed after all these books now that there is a theme in my work -- It is passion. It is encouraging people to explore what you love, to go out and find and try different things." Her latest book is Happy Birthday, Madame Chapeau.

This week, we read all the books by Andrea Beaty from our own personal collection and those that I acquired from our local library. Andrea Beaty signed our copies of Doctor Ted and Rosie Revere, Engineer at the National Book Festival over Labor Day weekend when she shared her birthday with us.
Andrea Beaty wrote her birthday on our National Book Festival poster so I wouldn't forget!
Artist Ted was the book that inspired our author birthday celebration activity for Andrea Beaty. Ted woke up in the morning and he thought his room needed to be spiffed up. He couldn't find an artist to do this so he became one. He couldn't find a paint brush so he made one out of a wooden spoon and curtain tie tassel. He couldn't find paint so he found some in the kitchen. My children loved Ted's ingenuity! Once Ted became an artist and had all his supplies he painted his walls with ketchup, mustard, jam, chocolate syrup, and toothpaste! Ted didn't stop painting at home, he went to school and painted too. His painting may have frustrated his mom and Principal Bigham, but in the end it was his painting that inspired him and his classmates to welcome a new friend.

When I read Artist Ted my youngest son asked, "Would you get in trouble if no one saw you paint on the walls?" Hmmmm.....maybe he was thinking up his own version of how to celebrate Andrea Beaty's birthday. My wife and I told him that you would get in trouble if you painted on walls without permission, but I knew I needed to figure out a way to bring Artist Ted to life for him.

Today, (remember I am writing this before the reading experience happened), I wondered if I could have my kids paint with ketchup, mustard, and toothpaste. Well, maybe not really, but what if we pretended.

Our family loves to recycle and we send as much of our waste as we can to Terracycle and our local recycling company. Therefore our garage is full of bags of sorted products that we will soon recycle. (Rosie Revere would have a lot of fun in our garage!) I knew I had containers from all the items that Artist Ted used as paint; ketchup, mustard, jam, toothpaste, and chocolate syrup. I gathered them and washed them out thoroughly. My son noticed what I was doing and started asking questions. "What are we going to do with these dad?" (My wife also started asking questions. Only hers were about my sanity. "Why exactly are cleaning out the mustard container?")

I said to my son, "We are going to fill them with paint and pretend that the paint is ketchup, mustard, chocolate syrup, jam and toothpaste just like Artist Ted." He responded, "Can we do it right now?"  I told him we didn't have time because of the day's schedule, but that we would be able to do it tomorrow before afternoon preschool.  He was okay with that and it must have been on his mind before bed tonight. He was looking through an Ed Emberley drawing book and found a demonstration on how to draw a wiener dog. "Dad, I can draw this wiener dog. And I can put ketchup and mustard on it." I said, "That sounds great. I can't wait to see it tomorrow."  As I walked out of the room he said, "But, I need ranch too!"  I laughed out loud, "Maybe we could do that."  He loves ranch dressing on his hot dogs.  I hope I can find a salad dressing bottle before tomorrow. {End of writing before reading experience.}

We woke up this morning and my son wanted to paint before his older brother and sister were on the school bus. I said, "We will paint like Artist Ted after we walk the big kids to the bus stop." My two-year-old daughter chimed in, "Are we going to paint on walls?"

"No, we are not going to paint on walls today (thinking to myself, not today, but maybe someday in the future we might need to try it!). We are going to paint with ketchup and mustard and chocolate syrup and RANCH!" I just emptied our bottle of ranch dressing into a Tupperware container so I could use the bottle for today's activity.
They were so excited for this project. Can you tell?
They picked out the colors of paint for each container. The only weird color selection was black for the spicy brown mustard container. 
All the lids were screwed back on once the paint was in the container.
Time to paint with mustard!
And chocolate syrup!
We talked about how Artist Ted made his own paintbrush, but they insisted on using real paintbrushes to start their painting.
My son's wiener dog had really long hair. In this photograph, he is adding ketchup to the wiener dog with a chopstick. The chopsticks were one of many different tools we used for painting. 
I loved her color choices -- mustard mixed with jam!
She tried painting with a chopstick too!
She painted with a pom-pom and 
a feather too.
Time to try painting with toothpaste!
She was determined to cover the whole canvas with paint.
He posed for this picture as if he was finished painting, but...
he needed to add a few more details with a pom-pom dipped in toothpaste.
Our butter-container lids became works of art too.
Here is the finished artwork. My daughter was walking back from the bus stop and found a leaf so we added it to her painting.
Andrea, thank you for sharing your birthday with us. It was so awesome to have met you at the National Book Festival. We enjoyed all of your books and are really hoping for another TED book real soon!

1. Andrea Beaty's website + TONS OF PRINTABLES for Parents and Teachers
2. Follow Andrea Beaty on Twitter,
3. Interviews - Powell's, Design Mom, FEMPOWER, Science Book-a-Day, Write Kids' Books, Cynsations, Prairie-Wind SCBWI Newsletter, ShelfElf, Just One More Book
4. Rosie Revere, Engineer Trailer - YouTube
5. Like ROSIE REVERE, ENGINEER on Facebook
6. An older blog from Andrea Beaty - Blogspot
7. Andrea Beaty video interview - Authors Revealed on Vimeo
8. Andrea Beaty talks about ROSIE REVERE - STEM OUTREACH NIU (YOUTUBE)
9. More STEM OUTREACH NIU videos about Rosie Revere

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