It started with the happiest of emails. Not the fake “you’ve-won-a-million-dollars” type, but the a real from-the-personal-assistant “Congratulations! You’ve won!” type. In this instance, though, the prize was a thirty-minute interview with Chris Grabenstein for my students.
It would be exciting to interview any children’s author. We love books and love reading, so being able to ‘get inside their heads’ is awesome in and of itself. We’ve met Chris Grabenstein, however, and know that he’s not only a gifted and creative author, but also an incredibly kind man. We knew this would be a fantastic opportunity.
We invited all of our book club kids, took interview questions from far-away friends, and planned our room set-up. This was a big deal, since we don’t have access to projectors, big screens, or serious microphone power. Because the interview would happen via Skype, I wanted everyone to be able to see the laptop screen as much as possible. To personalize the interview and keep questions clear and easy to hear, Mr. Grabenstein requested that the question-asker sit directly in front of the laptop – so we needed to be able to move around, too.
We figured it out, and on the day of the interview, the kids showed up with papers full of questions and nervous giggles erupting frequently. We talked about the time delay that happens when talking with Skype, about the importance of being polite, about listening to other people’s questions so we don’t repeat a lot, etc., and then it was time.
Skype didn’t connect at first, and then my phone rang: it was Mr. Grabenstein, checking in for the interview! We were soon able to make the Skype connection – but how wonderful is it that he would go that extra mile?
Mr. Grabenstein talked with us for a moment, and then let us jump right in with questions. He continued that for the full half hour. Several of the questions asked could have been answered with very short answers, but he told funny stories for each, sharing his history, giving lots of information, and making the asker feel important with each one.
I’m sure that many of the questions we asked are the same questions that he fields all the time, but what impressed me most about his answers was that he formatted them just like his books: to be funny stories with great themes and truths in each one.
When a student asked about his writing inspiration, he didn’t get just an answer, but a mini writing lesson in comic form. When a student asked whether he always wanted to write, we heard about his professional journey, including his motivation, the hard work he put in, and the education he has that played a role.
I especially loved his writing-inspiration answer, and it made an impression on my kids, too. In fact, as we walked through the NC Museum of Art yesterday, I heard one of them muttering, “What if …. we were here, alone, at night, and ….”
Chris Grabenstein’s enthusiasm for writing has been a boost for my kids’ confidence in themselves as writers and as creative people. We’re seeing story possibilities everywhere now, and I love how much happier they are to write.
Chalk up another win for Chris Grabenstein.
We’re big Grabenstein fans around here. To read more about our other interactions, check out these posts:
- Meeting “Lemoncello” Author Chris Grabenstein
- Book Clubbing and STEMing with Mr. Lemoncello
- How to Host Your Own ‘Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library’ Party
To find Grabenstein curriculum, including unit studies, party printables, recipes, and STEM activities, visit my TpT store here.