Berlin Elementary students got to meet Ellen Potter author of the Big Foot and Little Foot series on May 10. During a school wide assembly, Potter introduced her toolbox to writing books. Two students helped Potter create elements of surprise and suspense for the audience, both of which she said are necessary for a good story.
In Potter’s toolbox was a bag called “Ellen’s Brain,” filled with objects to help with descriptive words. There were also “story starters” that brought up memories, and a big red pencil for making revisions.
Potter’s inspiration for “Big Foot and Little Foot” came from when she lived in a rural area of Upstate New York. One day the kids who lived on her road told her there was a Bigfoot living in the woods behind her house. They showed her the tracks in the snow. She talked about what it would be like if there was a Bigfoot in the neighborhood and began to imagine a hidden community of Sasquatches.
Potter spent the rest of the day meeting with 4th and 5th grade students for writer’s workshops. During the workshops the students watched a short video of a story starter to help with the question “What if….” Potter discussed how important this question is, and how it helps the imagination to take over. The students had time to write and get one-on-one advice from Potter.
Between workshops, Potter read her new book, The Squatchicorns, to students in grades K-2 and concluded her visit with a book signing in the library. Potter left the students with the advice that if you read a lot and write a lot you can build a great foundation for your own story writing.