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J. Aday Kennedy Writing for Crumb Crunchers
Sunday, 2 November 2008
Pt II Lila Guzman's School Visits & Writing Credits
Mood:  not sure
Topic: school visit



J. Aday: Describe what a successful school visit would be?

Lila:  For me, a successful school visit entertains the students and holds their attention while teaching them.  It shows them how a book becomes a book, from original concept to finished product.


J. Aday: How do you promote your school visits?

Lila:  Part of my website is devoted to author visits.  Sometimes a librarian emails me and asks if I’m available.  Sometimes I call librarians and arrange author visits.

Before a new book comes out, I prepare postcards with the book cover on one side and information about school visits on the other side.


J. Aday: When you design a school visit how do you design your activities to make sure they will each fit the grade level? Do you research the goals of each grade, rely on the teacher’s desires, a combination or other? Explain.

Lila:  From raising three children, I have a basic understanding of the curriculum for each grade level.  Still, I ask librarians and teachers to tell me if they would like special areas highlighted during an author visit.

Teachers in the 4th and 5th grades often want me to emphasize how many times I edit each book and how my editor edits the book.

Middle school teachers often want me to talk about the historical aspects of my books because children begin to get a strong dose of the American Revolution in the 5th and 8th grades.

I often visit a school’s website before a visit to see if students have done something special or unique that will help me with the author visit.  (Example:  Going on a field trip to a battlefield.)


J. Aday: What have you prepared as handouts, giveaways and/or programs for your school visits?

Lila:  Most children want my autograph, so I prepare post cards that I can sign or I give away pens with promotional information.

I don’t give out handouts because I can never be sure how many children will show up.  Librarians can give me a ball park figure, but I’d rather not run out.

I do a mock inoculation for small pox, but that requires no extra equipment or preparation.

At the end of the presentation, I leave a signed book that I have personalized for the school.  I usually ask the audience to select the book.   (Sometimes the librarian tells me ahead of time which book to leave.)


J. Aday: How do you engage the students during a school visit?

Lila:  That depends on the age group and what the librarian wants.

For elementary students (3rd through 5th), I ask the students to bring three writing-related questions on file cards.  Then, during a question-and-answer session, I select children to ask questions.  I show students how a book becomes a book, from original concept to final product.  I show manuscript pages that my editor has marked up.  We talk about cover art and drawings inside the book.  They see galleys and compare them to the published book.

I like to ask them questions, instead of lecturing to them.  For example:  “What do you need to be a writer?”  (Answers can vary from “a pencil and a piece of paper” to “a good imagination.”)

If the librarian wants a writing exercise, I bring large file cards and ask the teachers to supply crayons and pencils.  We do an “art inspires writing” exercise.  Each student draws something on the back of a card.  Then we exchange cards and each student writes a story based on the drawing.  At the end of the exercise, we read the cards aloud and compare the story to what the artist was thinking about when drawing the picture.

For middle school students, I emphasize history, especially the American Revolution.  About halfway through the presentation, we talk about bioterrorism in the Revolutionary War.  I do a mock inoculation where I play the doctor and two students are the patients.

Sometimes the school buys a classroom set and the children read the book ahead of time.  They base their questions on it.


J. Aday: What’s the most difficult age group to capture their attention? In what way?

Lila:  Kindergarten through second graders are the most difficult for me.  I don’t write for that age group, but once in a while I am asked to include them in an author visit.  Because of the “wiggle factor,” I ask the librarians or the teachers for 25 minutes instead of the usual 45.  For the younger group, I change the way I present the material and usually don’t do a question-and-answer session because this age group is without guile and will reveal embarrassing personal information.  I usually have 3 different activities to keep their attention.  One of those usually involves drawing or coloring to enhance a writing activity.



“I Killed Santa’s Reindeer,” San Diego Writers Monthly.

“Star Apples,” Arizona Literary Magazine.

“She’s Got Spurs and She Ain’t Afraid to Use Them,” Millennium Science Fiction and Fantasy.

“In Perpetuity,” PIF Magazine.

“Maneuvering Board,” Lines in the Sand Magazine

“Johnny Reb's Drum,” Sallivan Publications

“The Chocolate Bar,” Roswell Literary Review

“Lost Cause,” NETWO Newsletter

And others.



LILA GUZMAN'S Books Published

Title:  George Lopez:  Latino King of Comedy

ISBN-10: 0766029689

ISBN-13: 978-0766029682

Price: $31.93

Format: Hardback (library edition)

Locations to purchase:, Enslow Publishers (1-800-398-2504)

Genre/age group/type of publication:  Biography/Young Adult

Brief synopsis: Growing up in East Los Angeles with his grandparents, George Lopez had a difficult childhood.  He overcame hardship to become one of America's most popular comedians.  Lopez has had a blossoming career in television (The George Lopez Show), movies, and stand-up comedy.  George Lopez: Latino King of Comedy looks at the life of this charitable comedian.


George Lopez:  Latino King of Comedy.  (2008, Enslow), Biography

Ultimate Dog Lover (2008, HCI), Short Story Anthology

Lorenzo and the Pirate.  (2009, Blooming Tree Press).  Young Adult Novel

Lorenzo’s Secret Mission.  (2001, Arte Público Press).  Young Adult Novel

Lorenzo’s Revolutionary Quest.  (2003, Arte Público Press).  Young Adult Novel

Lorenzo and the Turncoat.  (2006, Arte Público Press).  Young Adult Novel

Kichi in Jungle Jeopardy.  (2006, Blooming Tree Press).  Middle Grade Novel

Green Slime and Jam.  (2001, Eakin Press).  Middle Grade Novel.

Famous Latinos:  (2006, Enslow).

Cesar Chavez:  Fighting for Fairness

Frida Kahlo:  Painting Her Life

Diego Rivera:  Artist of Mexico

Ellen Ochoa:  First Latina Astronaut

Roberto Clemente:  Baseball Hero

    George Lopez:  Comedian and TV Star


Thank you for your time and the thought you’ve given to answer my questions. I hope that you have much success.

Posted by j.adaykennedy at 8:06 PM CDT
Updated: Sunday, 2 November 2008 8:55 PM CDT

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