Kayla Breese/River News
Students in Judy May’s fifth-grade class work with the author of the Hodag children’s books, Tom Barnett Monday, March 6 at Central Intermediate School in Rhinelander. The class learned about the writing and illustrating process, and even got to create their own short story in a comic strip featuring Bob the Hodag, the main character of Barnett’s children’s books.
3/9/2017 7:28:00 AM I brought a Hodag to Central Author Barnett works with Rhinelander fifth graders
Kayla Thomason Feature Writer
An author who has written two children's books staring Rhinelander's famed mythical Hodag worked with the students at Central Intermediate School Monday.
Tom Barnett, author of "I Brought a Hodag to School" read the sequel, "I Brought a Hodag Home," to the students, went over the story, took them through the drawing process of the main character, Bob the Hodag; and more.
Barnett said he was a bit nervous that the fifth-grade students wouldn't like the books - that the material might be below their grade level - but said it seemed that they liked the Hodag books.
"They actually took it over really well and I even heard them giggle a few times at some of the stuff that happened so it made me feel really good that it could relate to the older kids as well as the younger ones," Barnett said.
Barnett created two separate comic strips featuring the Hodag and left the word balloons blank so the students could create their own stories related to the images and color them in, becoming authors and illustrators themselves.
"I think they did really well," he said. "I walked around and I read a bunch of what they had written and a bunch of them were very, very creative in what they came up with, I was pretty impressed."
Barnett feels it is very important for students to interact with professionals in the arts.
"I think that showing them that you can actually become a professional artist or a professional writer even, that it shows them they can take the creativity that they have naturally and actually make a living doing it if they choose to follow that path," he said.
Kaden Wolrall, a student in Judy May's fifth grade class, thought that working on the comic strip was fun.
"If I had more time I think I could have done better, but I think for the time being I did a pretty good job," he said.
Wolrall thought it was a little challenging to come up with a story on the spot, but once he knew what he wanted to write about it was pretty easy.
He enjoyed interacting with the author, creating his own little story and coloring in the comics.
"I think it's going to be a very big life experience for me and I think it will stick with me," Wolrall said.
He thinks he'll continue to write in his free time.
Shyanne Baker, Wolrall's classmate, also enjoys the Hodag books.
"I think they're good," she said. "I think it's actually fun because I've never done this before."
Baker enjoyed creating her little story in the comic strip, and infused her love of singing in it.
Her story was about a boy who got an ice cream and started singing. The Hodag stealthily ate the boy's ice cream and the boy was confused and sad that his ice cream was missing.
Students asked Barnett if he'll be writing another book, and as long as they want more, he'll write more. He is mulling around several ideas for the third book, but it is in the beginning stages.
Kayla Breese may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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