Lower School Hosts 19th Annual Author Day

Two fiction and nonfiction authors were on campus Tuesday, March 1, and Thursday, March 3, 2022, where they shared their storytelling process and love of reading and writing with young readers during Oak Knoll School’s annual Author Day.

David A. Adler, award-winning author of more than 275 books – 56 of which include the popular “Cam Jansen” and “Young Cam Jansen” mysteries –met with grades 1-6 where he discussed the process of how he gathers, writes children’s stories and how the illustrators bring stories to life using different colors.

“I find all of my stories from real people around me,” said Adler during a presentation on Tuesday in the Mother Mary Campion Center to third and fourth graders. 

“I’m never bored because I’m always looking for stories,” he said. “Ideas, much like air, are all over the place and there are no limits about the number of stories you can collect – it’s about figuring out which ones to use. First, I like to create an interesting character then take this character to an interesting place,” Adler explained.

Adler’s “Cam Jansen” book series idea came from a boy in his first and second-grade class who was said to have a photographic memory. 

“I thought to myself, ‘wouldn’t it be great to have a photographic memory then solve mysteries?’” said Adler. 

The spark behind Adler’s “Benny, Benny, Baseball Nut,” came to him one night while hearing his young son Michael announce a pretend baseball game on the radio in his room. Adler’s main character in “The Many Troubles of Andy Russell,” was inspired by his middle son Eddie and his pet snake that escaped his tank.

“There isn’t a right or wrong way to write a story,” said Adler. “You are never wrong when you write a story.”

Adler, who worked as a New York City mathematics teacher for nine years before starting his writing career, has also published more than 20 math and science books for children.  He is also the author of economic books, biographies for children, and several acclaimed works about the Holocaust for young readers. He is also the author of the “Picture Book of” series. 

New York Times best-selling picture book author Beth Ferry spoke to Oak Knoll’s pre-K and Kindergarten classes on Thursday. In the Little Acorns Pre-K class on Thursday, Ferry read her first “Sticks and Stone” book and “The Nice Dream Truck.”

“I get most of my ideas for my books from reading and an idea could come to me from whatever I read,” said Ferry. “Reading always seems to spark an idea for me. I’m always aware and open to book ideas around me, even if it’s just something I hear a child say.”

Ferry is the author of more than 20 children’s picture books, which highlight humor and friendship, with colorful illustrations. Ferry also writes graphic novels for emerging readers including the “Fox and Rabbit” series and the series “Crab and the Snail.”

“Hearing from professional writers really inspires our students to be creative and believe in themselves,” said Betty Castello, Oak Knoll School Lower School Librarian. “When I read with students in the library, we often talk about the person behind the words. During author studies for the older grades, students love to discover real-life people behind their favorite books and are so intrigued to learn about personal experiences behind the stories,” she said.