Calef Brown School Visits

I love visiting elementary schools. The creativity and enthusiasm of the kids I meet is always amazing. I am also inspired by all the wonderful dedicated teachers, librarians and principals making poetry and art a priority for their students.

I have visited schools all over the country, from California to Oregon, Wisconsin to Pennsylvania.

I am also available for conferences and other events. In addition to schools, I have read my work and done workshops at The National Book Festival, The Walker Art Center, The Kohler Art Center, The Getty Museum, The Boston Children’s Museum, American Librarians Association and Texas Librarians Association Conferences.

Contact me at calef@calefbrown about scheduling a visit, fees and other details.

The Presentations

My presentations are lively and fun, and can be done for large groups or smaller classroom visits. The presentation lasts forty-five minutes, with another ten to fifteen minutes for live drawing and questions. Since at elementary schools, I present to a variety of grades in different groups – from kindergarten to fifth grade, I have three distinct but related presentations tailored to the various ages of the students – one for Pre-K, kindergartners and first graders, one for second and third graders, and one for forth and fifth.

I use keynote (powerpoint for mac) for the slideshow and start with examples of art and books that inspired me when I was young, some of my drawings from my elementary school years, and go from my first attempts at putting stories and pictures together, to the books I create today. I talk about where the ideas for the poems come from, why I love language and the things I find funny, and go through the process of writing and illustrating a book, from ideas to sketches to the printed page.

I show a big variety of artwork, read lots of my favorite poems from the books, and include some simple and creative drawing and poetry exercises.

When I answer questions at the end, three of the most popular seem to be :

  • Are any of your poems about your family or pets?
  • What is your favorite poem that you have written?
  • Why did you make yourself a blue elephant on the book flaps?
    A: (yes, Tiny Baby Sphinx, and I’m very fond of elephants
    but generally dislike author photos)

    I’ve also been asked if I really paint on toast,
    wear dutch wooden sneakers, or keep any pet snails.

    (The answer is no to two of those questions, and yes to one)

    A few testimonials:

    Calef Brown captured his audience with his art work and writing. The children loved his poems and were captivated by his ability to recite each from memory. His commentary on his journey into art instilled in the children the lesson of never giving up on your dream to do what you love. In the days following Calef’s visit his books flew off the shelves. I highly recommend hosting an author visit with author/illustrator Calef Brown.

    Judy Hummel – Woodland Elementary School Librarian.

    I think that one of our first graders said it best: “We have never in a billion years had such a cool guest as Calef Brown at our school. When will he be back?” You have made a huge and lasting impression on the students, teachers and families at Forest Park Elementary School. The kids have not stopped talking about your visit. My email and voicemail boxes were filled with messages from Forest Park families. Everyone was blown away by your presentations and your kindness with the book signing. Your work and words made a major impact- the kids are all writing poetry, illustrating their work and sharing with each other. Your presentations led the kids through your process- from inspiration to concept to sketches to final copy. The kids loved the stories behind the stories – you shared your real life experiences and the kids were able to see how those experiences made their way into your work. You spoke to the kids – not at them. Students have been bringing their “book dummies” into the library to share and are ready to send them off to a publisher! Since your visit the poetry section in our library has been wiped out. Thanks 1,000,000 times for visiting our school. I don’t think we will ever top it. You are a rock star around here!

    Mirka Jablonski – Librarian, Forest Park Elementary School

    The students were fascinated by Calef Brown and the work he shared with them. He captured the attention of both the students and teachers, creating a warm and comfortable atmosphere as he shared his love of drawing and writing. The way in which Calef personalized his “lessons” to the students, shared stories about his childhood, family, and pets really drew the students in. They enjoyed his humor and candor, and loved it when he created images before their eyes. Days after he left, his drawings were still in the classroom and students were attempting to replicate them. We would welcome Calef back again and again.

    Lynda Clark – 4th Grade Teacher, Woodland Elementary

    “Thank you, Calef Brown!”

    I was thrilled to host your recent visit to Worcester Elementary School. Students and teachers alike enjoyed the experience. We were already captivated by the unique blend of art and poetry in your books. Your presentation and slide shows gave us insight as to your inspiration and the breadth of your work.

    Debra Cherry – Library Media Specialist, Worcester Elementary

    Dear Calef Brown,
    For Christmas I received Flamingos on the Roof. It is so good. Now, for April I have a poetry report where I have to find five poems from different authors. My topic was weather. I knew I wanted to choose a poem from your books so I chose Weatherbee’s Diner. That is also the poem I have to memorize for school as part of my report. I also brought that book in and most people are using poems from your book. Everyone who saw it found a favorite poem. I just wanted to say thank you for writing such great poems.

    Jack K. – 4th Grader

    Dear Mr. Brown,

    This is one of those stories on how you positively impacted a young child.

    My 5 year old daughter, Rose and I attended your Poetry reading in Portland earlier this spring. Rose has delighted in reading the 2 books of yours she currently owns (She reads above her grade level). Her collection will grow, I am sure. You further opened her eyes and mind to poetry.

    When Rose’s school announced they would have an end of year talent show, Rose knew immediately she would read Oilcloth Tablecloth by Calef Brown. She memorized it, put together her props (small oilcloth covered table, baby doll in doll highchair, play coffee pot, soda bottle and “fake” spill). She did a great job and introduced more children to your vibrant and wonderful works.

    Thank you for sharing your talents.

    Laura B. – Portland OR

    On Friday, March 13th, 2009, author/illustrator/artist Calef Brown visited Arrowhead Library. Students were expecting a blue elephant but were not disappointed that Calef Brown was more human than pachyderm. His message to students was not to give up! If you like to do something, do it! He said he was not the best artist in school, but he loved to draw. So, he kept on doing it until he became an author, illustrator, and artist!

    Calef explained that elephants have been his favorite animals since he took a trip to India- the reason why the dust jackets on his books frequently depict him as a blue elephant. Calef Brown answered many questions about his work, his life, and the inspiration for his unique poetry.

    After the presentation Calef Brown took time to meet and take pictures with students who were inspired by his work. Mrs. Markle’s first grade class created artwork based on a Calef Brown poem entitled “Painting on Toast.”

    Janice Conger – Librarian, Arrowhead Elementary

    Calef Brown’s presence at our school was sublime, his influence far -reaching. The students were enchanted and have filed away another possibility for their future
    livelihoods by his example and the message he exudes.

    Geralyn Leannah – Teacher, Sheboygan Wisconsin