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UMFK education students may very well be next Dr. Seuss

February 27, 2004

NR04035

Who would of thought that students in a University of Maine at Fort Kent writing for elementary teaching class would be illustrating and become authors of their very own children's book. One look at the dozens of original children's books created this semester in Dr. Terry Murphy's writing class, and you may very well have the making of the next Dr. Seuss.

The class assignment, which had each student writing and illustrating a children's story, has been an ongoing project for the class since the beginning of the semester. No guidelines were given to the students, rather each was asked to use their creativity to complete the assignment.

That creativity has sparked original works with titles such as "Sammy the Snail," "My First Day at School," and "Can Dogs and Cats be friends?"

Many of the books created, both fiction and non-fiction, took root with the student's own experiences as children, including family experiences or subjects that were of interest to them.

The students began working on their own and would then bring drafts to class for peer review. Classmates critiqued the works in progress and shared ideas.

In addition, each student was required to provide illustrations for their story.

"It was a tremendous challenge to actually sit down and write a story," said Steve Babin, a senior student from Fort Kent.

Babin's book is titled, "Chippy's Adventure," which the author prides as a real accomplishment.

"I thought that the illustrating would be more difficult than the actual writing, but it did not turn out to be that way. I was really surprised with the results of the illustrations," he added.

Shawn Whitty, a senior from Summer-side, Prince Edward Island took a different approach to his book. The publication he created entitled "Shapes" is a wonderful story about a young boy who overcomes his fear of shapes.

"Jordan, the boy in my story, goes to bed and wakes up in a dreamland full of shape people," said Whitty. "He then heads off to school the next day to hear his teacher ask about shapes. Writing about Jordan and his shape skills was fun."

For Andrea Ouellette, a senior from Madawaska, this experience has given her and fellow classmates the opportunity to come close to being an author.

"Not only did we have to develop a good story, but we had to transfer the images in our mind onto paper as well. We not only had to choose words, but colors as well. Each story and its illustrations are as unique as each one of us are."

Ouellette's comments are echoed by many of her classmates.

Kendra McKinnon of Kanata, Ontario introduced her book to classmates dressed as a mermaid in her creative endeavor entitled, "The Adventures Along Sourpatch Beach".

"All the effort and hard work was more than worth it. And I think everyone enjoyed the costume. That was fun to make too," said McKinnon.

The student's books are on display in the Blake Library for the campus community and public to view through March 22.