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FGL Hosts a Virtual 'Todd Party' with Children's Author

As part of a One School, One Author initiative that began last month, Frank G. Lindsey students have had a busy few weeks pouring through the works of Todd Parr, an author and illustrator based in California. Those efforts were rewarded Monday when Parr himself paid all FGL students a virtual visit — one he dubbed a “Todd Party.”

In advance of his virtual visit, Hen Hud students in PreK, kindergarten and first grade voted on the book for Parr’s read aloud, choosing “The Monster Mac and Cheese Party.” On Monday afternoon, they gathered on the rugs in their classrooms and listened intently as Parr joined them live on each classroom’s SMART Board. Parr introduced himself before reading the book to the rapt students. He shared his screen for a presentation about himself, talking about both his life and his writing and illustrative process.

“Who thinks they can draw better than me?” Parr asked to rooms filled with raised hands.

Parr showed students slides with his resume, which was drawn in colorful letters and pictures. He then provided some fanciful information about his background, which was, like his books, both fictional and imaginative. The author/illustrator also detailed the challenges he overcame as a young student: struggles that included repeating second grade and managing his dyslexia and a wavering attention span.

Parr told students that although classmates once teased him for repeating a grade, the experience inspired his work.

“That’s why I write about why it’s important to feel good about who you are,” Parr told the classes.

He also showed the students examples of letters and drawings he has been sent by children, even some who didn’t appreciate his books. He then displayed pictures of and discussed his own “children” — rescue dogs Pete, Jerry and Tater Tot.

The FGL students appeared delighted by the experience.

“They were really excited for this,” kindergarten teacher Christine Hill said. “They were asking me all day when they were going to see Todd. It was nice to see them anticipate his visit. For most of them, it’s probably the first time they’ve gotten to see a real author.”

Students had plenty of questions for Parr. Why did he draw a creature with no legs? Did he run out of ink? How many books has he written? Which one is his favorite? Why are all of his drawings outlined in black? And has he ever written books that weren’t for children?

Parr, who once worked at a taco shop and a record store before becoming a flight attendant for 15 years, told the students he had found his purpose.

“I did,” Parr said of writing books for adults, “but I realized that it’s easier and more fun when you do what you do best.”