Children get a read on the literary life


January 30, 2001|By Debra Taylor Young | Debra Taylor Young,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

IN SUPPORT OF National Reading Month, pupils at Carrolltowne Elementary were treated to an enlightening day with author and humorist Barry Louis Polisar.

Polisar, 46, is an author of children's books who also performs readings of his works for schools. Many of his writings have been put to music and recorded.

The children and teachers were thoroughly entertained Friday by the familiar topics Polisar shared with them.

"Have you ever been told, `Don't do that?'" he asked. All hands in the crowded room were raised instantly.

That reaction explained the title of his book on bad manners, "Don't Do That! A Child's Guide to Bad Manners, Ridiculous Rules, and Inadequate Etiquette." It was one of many topics that showed how simple ideas can become the basis of a published book.

The assembly was followed by a workshop, during which Polisar discussed process and fielded questions.

Many of the questions dealt with how long it takes to write a book, and how he gets his ideas.

Polisar presented copies of his manuscripts with many corrections on them, showing the aspiring authors that a lot of work goes into writing.

He drew the parallel between a teacher's request for a rough draft of an assignment, and then the final draft. Professional writers might do many rough drafts, he said.

Polisar said one 30-page book required 18 edited rough drafts before the final draft was achieved.

Pupils seemed most interested in the stories surrounding the ideas for Polisar's books.

He described an incident in which his wife came in from the garden and exclaimed that slugs were eating everything. That statement became the idea for the song "I'm a Slug," which Polisar performed.

Agnes Bender, PTA chairwoman for cultural arts, set up the workshops with Polisar. The school received copies of his books and compact discs in advance to familiarize pupils with his work, she said.

"Teachers spent the month of January presenting the materials to students," she said.

His visit was part of an effort to promote a love of reading and writing.

After the workshops, Polisar signed copies of his books. Part of the proceeds from book and CD sales benefit the PTA, Bender said.

Polisar has been writing children's books since 1974. He has performed at the White House, the Smithsonian Institution and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Among the many honors he has received are four Parents Choice Awards. He lives in Silver Spring.

Information: or 410-549-2368.

Student poster contest

The U.S. Department of the Treasury is sponsoring the 2001 U.S. Savings Bonds National Student Poster Contest.

The contest is open to fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders.

This year's theme is "Reach for the Stars - Buy U.S. Savings Bonds." The contest gives children a chance to help promote economic prudence in a creative way.

First-place winners from each state will receive a $1,000 Series EE savings bond and will be entered in the national competition.

Information: or 304-480-6112.

Trains on display

Sykesville and Patapsco Railway will have its model trains on display from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday in the Pullman car off Main Street in Sykesville.

The Old Main Line Visitor Center, near the car, will be open. A tour guide will discuss the building's history.

Sykesville and Patapsco Railway is setting up its new N-scale train in the center.

Visitors can watch the group's progress during regular S&P Railway hours.

Information: 410-795-3157.

Self-defense seminar

A women's self-defense seminar will be held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 17 at Health and Fitness Center at Carrolltown Center in Eldersburg.

Topics will include basic and advanced defensive moves, situational awareness and safe falling.

The seminar is for adult women. The cost is $30.

Information: 410-549-7437.

Debra Taylor Young's Southeast neighborhood column appears each Tuesday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.

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