By Katie Lawrence, Youth Librarian
KDL's Virtual Elementary Graphic Novel Book Club was in for a surprise treat on Monday, August 9 when author Ryan Estrada, the writer of Student Ambassador: The Missing Dragon, joined us for our discussion. Ryan periodically Googles his book just to see if anyone's discussing it online and happened upon our group. He contacted me as one of the leaders of the club and asked if he could join. Obviously, I was thrilled and said "Of Course!" Ryan spent about 45 minutes answering the kids' questions, talking about his work and more. He even let us name a character in the book! In the story the characters encounter a cute Japanese snow monkey. Ryan spontaneously decided to give us the privilege of giving him a name. After much deliberation and a vote, we selected Yuki Tambo as the name. Check out the Twitter announcement.
Ryan joined us virtually from South Korea, though he is originally from Michigan, and he even had some family members join us for our discussion! It was incredibly special to have Ryan join us for book club. One thing that surprised our readers was that Ryan was also a student ambassador when he was a student, but his experiences were much less exciting than Joseph's in the book. In fact, Ryan said he wrote Student Ambassador to explore what he wished his experiences had been like. We can't wait to read the next book in the series when it comes out! Two of our book club members are siblings, and they are creating their own graphic novel right now. Ryan very generously offered to look at some of their work and said he loves seeing artwork from students. Ryan started submitting cartoons to the local newspaper when he was 6 years old, and it was wonderful to hear about his journey as an artist/author as well as his encouragement for young artists to keep creating!
Ryan is working on a few forthcoming projects and also co-created the young adult graphic novel Banned Book Club with Kim Hyun Sook and Hyung-Ju Ko. For more information about Ryan and his work for all different ages you can visit his website.
The Virtual Elementary Graphic Novel Book Club began in the summer of 2020 to connect kids ages 6-10 through discussion of great graphic novels. Our group is usually made up of about 10-12 kids from all over the area. We discuss the chosen book, watch a video of the author or illustrator, work on a drawing project and more. This is actually the second time an author has asked if they could join us for a book club! Author John Patrick Green also joined us to discuss InvestiGATORS this past fall. I'm hoping that we might have other special guests join us in the future too! It has been such a joy getting to know a great group of readers from throughout Kent County and occasionally having the incredible opportunity to introduce them to real live authors. We meet on Zoom every other week and will be continuing in the fall of 2021. For more information and to register for a discussion visit our website.
I would be remiss if I didn't thank the incredible team of KDL Librarians who help host the program, thank you to Melissa English from our Krause Memorial Branch, Sarah Fox from our Kentwood Branch, Leigh Verburg from our Comstock Park Branch and Alantha Mansberger from our Englehardt Branch who helped me start the group in 2020.