Sunday, March 17, 2013

Justice Jack and Billy Pratt Come Alive

I know there are a lot of Sammy Keyes fans who visit this blog, so I have to share some photos from last week's visit to a middle school in Oklahoma.

The school's theme this year was "superheroes", and the whole student body and staff read Sammy Keyes and the Power of Justice Jack as a school-wide read.

That right there is amazing enough (and enough to make any author wildly happy), but these pictures will show you how over-the-top this school went and will say more than I could ever explain.

First up, the principal, dressed as Justice Jack (in the Golden Gloves of Justice!).

Suffice it to say I never had a principal like this! (And the VP was "the Duce"!) Together they MC'd part of the festivities during my visit. (Earlier in the year I was told that they made a big-splash (or crash?) entrance together during a school assembly on a tandem bike--their version of The Highroller).

Another "book excerpt" skit was done by a teacher (who played Elvis) and a student (who played Sammy). They did the scene from Justice Jack where Sammy goes into Maynard's Market and the Elvis impersonator (who only speaks in Elvis song titles) is working the register. (Some of you will recall this exact excerpt from the ARC giveaway contest we had last year.) (It's also the beginning of Chapter 24, in case none of this is bell-ringing in your brain.)

Anyway, this teacher-turned-Elvis had memorized the three pages of Elvis lines from the opening "Hey, little mama!" to the closing "Always stop, look, and listen!".  Incredible!

The kitchen crew also got into the act. They came out and did a crazy rap, with metal whisks banging against pots and pans. The guy in the middle was awesome-crazy! No dreaded "lunch ladies" at this school!

And I know some of you will love this next one (even though it's not the greatest image). It's Sammy and friends led by Casey through the graveyard on Halloween in Sammy Keyes & the Night of Skulls. The part where he's telling the Wild West tale...that just so happens to take place in Oklahoma. (There were tombstones and a whole graveyard set up, which doesn't show, but was way cool!)

In addition to the skits, the school's hallways were covered with Sammy Keyes art. I'm talking from floor to ceiling! It was crazy!  

They also had book cover place mats in the cafeteria...

...and a huge "standee" (made of plywood) of Sammy Keyes and the Showdown in Sin City. 

And for the students who participated in the skits and entertainment, the library hosted a luncheon where dessert was cupcake cakes in the shape of Sammy signature items--a skateboard and high-top!

I wish you could have all been there. I know you would have loved it too!


Jessica said...

That is so crazy cool! We had a few author visits in elementary school, but I don't remember them ever telling us beforehand so we could read their books, much less having the whole school read them -- and forget about skits or murals or skateboard cupcake-cakes! That school is doing it right.

Anonymous said...

wow, i probably would have liked middle school a lot more if i went to that one!

Lucy Baez said...

WE WERE NEVER ALLOWED TO GET THAT FIRED UP ABOUT ANYTHING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!(so jealous).
It looks like it was amazingly fun, and I do wish I could have been there!

gabrielle said...

I wish my school would be this cool!! I told my mom i wished we lived in Oklahoma!! That would be so cool if my school would do that!! That looked like so much fun!!


Wendelin Van Draanen said...

My middle school was NOTHING like this one. I never met an author before becoming one, either. I figured they were all really old or dead. I think we lose so much with the obsession with testing (and feeling we need to teach to the test). This school has a real sense of community which is awesome.

Kylie said...

THAT SCHOOL IS SO AWESOME FOR WHAT THEY DID! I wish I could have seen that in person. I bet it was really cool to see your books acted out. How did the rap go? Like everyone else I wish my school was this awesome! I bet the kids had a lot of fun!


Isabel said...

THIS MIDDLE SCHOOL IS SOOO AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!! Man... Raps, Elvis, Sammy, and so much, my. I school may have festivals, choirs, cook outs, and even Meet-The-Author day, (which I really wish that they get awesome authors, like you, to come!) but they have nothing like this! I am so jealous, but happy that a whole school loves SK so much!

Yusa said...

Hehehe i wish i went to that school that must be the best middle school in the world! Any middle school who celebrates SAMMY KEYES has to be! If you ever come to my city i will dress up just for you ;) I actually have a great idea (Gina).... hmm you should come here soon.

gabrielle said...

My middle school does like,nothing cool.The only things good that happened at our school, was book fairs, and this one assmebely where they picked kids to come up on the stage and try to do these crazy things in one minute. But that's all!! They definently didn't do scenes from books! Wendelin, I wish you could come to my school!


Caradith Craven said...

Wendelin's visit to our school was a wonderful opportunity to reach out to our students and staff to create an atmosphere that would give EVERYONE in our school an extraordinary author experience. Yes, just having Wendelin deliver her powerful, entertaining, energetic, and heartfelt presentations is an amazing experience. (And I do hope you get the opportunity to witness it in person someday.)

But I envisioned taking it a step further by bringing her books and our ETRTR experiences to life in a variety of ways. I think the pictures speak for themselves in explaining what we did. But what I have never shared with anyone is how it all came together. There were no early morning committee meetings or author visit discussion sessions, no announcements over the Intercom to volunteer, no "this is what you have been assigned to do" talks, no "answer trivia questions about the author and get a prize" moments, no "do this and I promise you something in return".

I didn’t call, text, e-mail, send out volunteer flyers, or make Intercom pleas. I simply went one-by-one, face-to-face to each individual and asked them to join me in a great author adventure. I've been at Central long enough to know how to match individual's gifts and talents to what I need to make things happen.

There were no egomaniacs or glory seekers; just creative, hardworking individuals who came together for a common purpose: to honor and celebrate an author we love and hold dear to our hearts by giving her the ULTIMATE AUTHOR EXPERIENCE. Along the way, we gave ourselves “that one moment in time when we were more than we thought we could be”, and we will never forget it.

Mark said...

Caradith -

Beautiful post. And beautiful job, organizing everything. That really WAS the 'ultimate author experience'...!

Caradith Craven said...

Thanks, Mark. It was an unforgettable experience.

gabrielle said...

You know Wendelin,you should REALLY come to our school, or you know,come to Virginia. Because I REALLY want to meet you!!!!


Isabel said...

Gabrielle: It's so cool live in Virginia, that's awesome! At least you to see snow (Hope I'm right.)Cause I live in Cali (California), well...where I live, there isn't any snow. :/
ANYWAYS...I REALLY want to meat you, Wendelin, too! Cause seriously, the only time I'd listen to Author Day is when they have an author who DOESN'T write baby poems. So, please, Wendelin, your welcome any time!

gabrielle said...

Isabel: There's actually a chance of snow on Sunday and Monday! Like,we got nothing in January and Febuary,but now we're getting it in March! Let me tell you,we have some weird weather down in Virginia! It just sucks sometimes,NOTHING cool happened like it did in Oklahoma in Virginia! Or maybe it's just the town I live in. My town kind of reminds me of Santa Martina,it defenetly has it characters.. And there's sooo many motels,I've never seen sooo many,but you have all those people that never leave,so if you ever go to where I live,I wouldn't recommend going into any of our motels.... It's kind of like a bunch of Mimi heavenly hotels. Even though I've never been in one of them,and I don't plan on it.... I do want to visit California,my Grandmother went there when she was younger,I've always wanted to visit. But Wendelin,I know I'm being really pushy,but you really need to come here! (Even though I made my town sound so unpleasant) but there is good things about it,it's very small townish and there's friendly people.


Yusa said...

I have a kinda story Wendelin. I think you;ll like it. So basically our English class was out and watching one of our class do a stage play outside and i get distracted out of the corner of my eye by someone with a CHICKEN HAT that looks JUST LIKE BILLY'S riding a SCOOTER around the hallways at school. AMAZING RIGHT? So i tell my brother and apparently one of his teavchers wears a unique hat EVERY friday. He brings a box full of hats to school at the beginning ofth e craziest hats ever and every time he wears one he takes it home. And those days he travels by scooter. Amazing. I really wanted to tell him i liked his hat and try it on. I was like OMG THATS BILLY'S HAT. So yup thats my story. The end.

Karen said...

Oh, wow. That is so cool!

I love that the kitchen crew got in on it too. They and the janitors always tend to be forgotten. I love all the Sammy art papering the walls, and the tandem high roller, and the cakes, and-- Oh, just everything.

I can't really be surprised that a teacher would memorise three pages of Elvis song conversation--my favorite high school teacher (French language) was an amateur actor, which she said really helped with teaching, because she was doing six hours of solo improv every day! (Plus, it's Elvis song conversation!)

I can't really imagine being assigned a book as fun as Sammy Keyes. (And Justice Jack, no less!) But I'm really glad someone was.

Caradith, thank you so much for bringing people together to do this. And Wendelin, thank you for writing books not even an English teacher can ruin.

Doing it right, indeed. :-)

Karen said...

Also, Yusa, I like your stories. A scooter-riding teacher in a chicken hat! I'm so glad people like him exist.

Selica Leone said...

I would have loved to be there. That sounds amazing.