Children’s Illustrator, Author Visits Holley School

Photo provided by Holley Elementary – Abbott uses an unusual fruit to illustrate how one should not judge a book by its cover.

A librarian at Holley Elementary had a life-changing experience as a child that she wanted to pass on to other children, so she set her sights on finding the right person to do that.

The librarian, Cera Hartness, invited illustrator and author Zoey Abbott to the school to read one of her books and share a drawing demonstration.

“I got to present to two groups of students and had so much fun sharing process and talking about themes of my books,” Abbott said. “We especially had fun working story illustration prompts, an exercise for generating and working on personal projects.”

Hartness recalled when she was about 6 years old, author, illustrator and singer Mary Rice Hopkins visited Sweet Home to share her talents with the city’s youngest residents.

“I remember sitting in Sankey Park listening to her read her book aloud while the park was filled with children,” Hartness said. “I still to this day have her signed book in my possession. That day sparked a love of reading, art and music.”

Hartness, herself, attended Holley Elementary growing up, so when she came on board as librarian, she took her “sheer love of literature and art”  and used it as fuel to hunt for the right author to multiply the good memories.

“I knew immediately that I wanted to give the students, including my own son and daughter (sixth grade), and my niece (fifth grade) and nephew (kindergarten) the same experience,” she said.

Abbott is a children’s book author and illustrator out of Portland, where she shares a home with family and their dog, Carrots. She has published four of her own books and illustrated four others. She works in various mediums including guache, ink, pencil and risograph printing.

Her books include, “Banana,” about the challenges of change, “Clementine and the Lion,” about boundaries and friendship, “Pig and Horse and the Something Scary,” about friendship and emotions, and “I Do Not Like Yolanda,” overcoming fear of a particular postal worker. She has three more books forthcoming: “A Kite Story,” “This Year, A Witch,” and “The Portraitist.”

On her website, Abbott shares that “making stories is an indulgence and a way to sort out things that make no sense.”

During her visit to Holley, she not only read one of her books to the students, but also explained the writing and illustration process, how long it takes to publish books, what her inspiration was, and how to create your own story by using the three Ps: person, place, problem.

“This gave the students the foundation of what it takes to do what she does,” Hartness said.

Abbott also showed a rambutan fruit to illustrate that one cannot judge a book by its cover or a fruit by its peel, Hartness added.

“To say the kids were excited is an understatement,” she said. “They adored her and even handed her little gifts of drawing bananas as thank you cards. They still talk about her a week later and we are sending her a Holley SWAG box of drawings, stories, thank you cards, and a Holley Hawk T-shirt next week.”

Abbott told The New Era she was especially warmed by the staff and students who were so welcoming, and she had a “lovely” visit.

“The children are already such astute readers, writers and creators and I hope they’ll be inspired to continue and deepen their work,” Abbott said.