WHITMAN — Popular Children’s Illustrator John Steven Gurney made lots of silly faces when he spoke to the students at Conley Elementary School Thursday, Jan. 26. They were just as pleased to give him the arched eyebrow and make cartoon-like expressions in return.
After all, they were envisioning how they would look as a character in one of his many books.
Having the perfect pout and eye expression is the goal when Gurney is sketching for publications, he told students. His well-known “A-Z Mysteries,” “Pet Hotel,” “The Bailey School Kids,” and more than 140 other books grace the shelves of libraries everywhere and Conley is no exception.
Many Conley students were engaged in drawing easy cartoon figures, and most gasped when the PowerPoint showed their favorite books, which were illustrated by Gurney.
He gave a detailed step-by-step description of the creative process which goes into illustrating — explaining that he works closely with the editor, and not the author, of a book — which can be a lengthy process to define the finished product.
During the PowerPoint presentation, his various stages of work were explained complete with using his son to capture a moving subject. He later compared the early sketches to the finished pages in the book.
Several second-grade students whispered across their row to one another about a book they were currently reading in class. They giggled as if they had a kept secret for the ending but then realized Gurney would never reveal the ending of the book.
No spoiler alert needed.