Area writers offer views about work, read stories Professionals participate in workshop for students at Warren Elementary

March 29, 1998|By Jenny Huddleston | Jenny Huddleston,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Baltimore author and illustrator Susan Roth leaned back in her wooden rocking chair as 19 Warren Elementary School first-graders squirmed on the sky-blue rug around her. She pulled out one of her children's books and began a guessing game.

"What do you think I used to make this?" she asked, pointing to a colorful figure on the cover of "Kanahena: A Cherokee Story."

Paper? Sponge-paint? Wood?

"Take another look," Roth said, holding the book, with its collage illustrations, closer to their faces.

An "ooh" escaped the lips of Jimmy Carlson, 6, who clearly had the best spot near the author's feet. "Leaves?" he cried. Roth nodded and continued reading aloud.

Roth, with more than 25 area writers, illustrators, editors and reporters, joined teachers and students at Warren recently for the Cockeysville school's annual Young Writers' Workshop. Guests visited classes from kindergarten through fifth grade to tell about their work and read stories.

In its fourth year, the program was modeled after one practiced by every public school in Haverford Township, Pa., said Leslie McIntyre, a parent who originated the Warren Elementary workshop. Judy Cool, another parent who was this year's coordinator, attributed the program's success to the "incredible response" from the local professionals.

Participants included representatives from The Sun, Washington Post and Towson Times, the public relations office of the Baltimore Ravens and WMAR-TV (Channel 2), as well as free-lance writers and illustrators.

Patricia Brown's fifth-graders honed their editing skills when Tom Kavanagh, Post Style section editor, presented them with an error-ridden story on Olympic ice-skating champion Tara Lipinski.

"There's a lot of misspelling in there," said Ian Davis, 10, when Kavanagh challenged the class to identify a number of typos and stylistic quirks similar to what an editor might confront.

"You certainly wouldn't want it to go into the newspaper like that," agreed Kavanagh.

Working as a group, the class left few mistakes undiscovered. Brown said the class had spent time before the workshop learning about an editor's job.

Several of her students said they would like to try reporting or editing some day.

"I like to write," said Tanya Mirican, 11. "I'd like to travel places and find out the news."

It was nearly lunchtime for Kathy Peregoy's first-graders, and Roth had almost finished reading her book about kanahena, a Native American dish. But before they lined up for the cafeteria, Roth wanted to explain something.

" 'Kanahena' is a story that made pictures in my head when I heard it," she said. Removing scissors and various items from her bag, she urged the students to create their own works of art.

"If you collect odd things," she said, holding up a rainbow of paper scraps and cotton patches, "you can make your own collages."

Pub Date: 3/29/98

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