|Westerfeld bravely shakes hands with one of his fans.|
The group of 6th, 7th, and 8th graders were quiet and attentive as he described the history of illustration in novels. The illustrations in Leviathan and Behemoth hearken back to the heyday of the illustrated novel.
His presentation was extremely well done and had some great laugh moments in the auditorium where he spoke. Regular readers of his blog may recognize some of the visuals. Westerfeld describes illustrator, Keith Thompson's artwork as "“Victorian manga” style, part steampunk and part old-fashioned biotech." His images of war machines and characters grabbed the kids' attention today and they loved it.
The absolute best part of any author visit for me is watching the kids, the fans. After the presentation was over, a small group ran forward to talk with him. As they stood around him, listening and asking questions, I nudged a friend nearby and pointed at the group. "Look at their faces," I whispered. Hmmm, which adjective to choose, "shining," "radiant," "amazed," "rapt"? Several kids had stacks of his books filing their arms. Later while he was signing, a boy asked him what had he wanted to be when grew up. "Rock star," Westerfeld threw out. I think he can tick that one off his "to do" list now.
So, if you, dear reader, are near any of the cities on his tour, hasten, run, sprint to your nearest walking tank or wheeled conveyance and attend. I was so grateful that Blue Willow Bookshop and the school administration were able to make this happen for these students. (Also, thank you former student who took the picture of Scott and Dragon. I had to hover nearby in case of death or injury.)
For audobook fans:The audiobooks are brilliantly read by Alan Cumming (yes, that guy that introduces Masterpiece Mystery on PBS.) You must see Thompson's illustrations though. Westerfeld says there are plans to do a "field guide" style volume of Thompson's reference and background illustrations of this world.