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Author Peter Brown Visits Quaker Ridge

Author Peter Brown displays a drawing of a dog


New York Times best-selling author and illustrator Peter Brown spent two days speaking with Quaker Ridge students in grade 1 through five last week about being an author and illustrator, how he comes up with the plots and characters in his middle grades stories, and even showed them how he draws.

Mr. Brown’s appearance capped off an all-school reading experience at Quaker Ridge called One Book, One School, which was developed In collaboration with the school’s Compact Committee and kicked off in September.

Students were introduced then to the writings of Mr. Brown’s book “The Wild Robot” and each family of students in grades 1-5 received their own copies of the book, thanks to the generosity of the Quaker Ridge PTA. Families were encouraged to read the book together.

In classrooms throughout the school, teachers and students read the book, discussed the story, and worked on author studies.

Mr. Brown is an author and illustrator of children’s books including the New York Times bestsellers The Wild Robot, The Curious Garden, Children Make Terrible Pets, and Mr. Tiger Goes Wild. Peter’s illustrations for Creepy Carrots!, written by Aaron Reynolds, earned him a Caldecott Honor.

Back in September, when the program kicked off, Principal Dr. Felix Gil said he hoped the initiative would “build a community of active readers at our school.”

“The Wild Robot,” Mr. Brown’s first children’s novel, was published in 2016. It’s the story of a robot named Roz and her struggle to survive on a remote, wild island. As it turns out, Roz doesn’t just survive, she adapts, and learns to communicate with the wildlife, and then develops animal friends and even a family. Roz makes the island her home. Mr. Brown has just published a sequel, “The Wild Robot Escapes.”

Mr. Brown said he remembers beginning to draw when he was a young boy, telling himself, “Someday I want to be an old man who makes art.” Growing up, he loved Frog and Toad books, and the stories of the Berenstain Bears. He even wrote his first picture book, The Adventure of Me and My Dog Buffy, after the escape and return of his cherished dog, when he was six years old.

“It takes a year to do a picture book,” he told students, and the main character in “The Wild Robot,” Roz, started out as an illustration of a robot in a tree – and image he studied for a long time before coming up with a story line.

He eventually created a “story line,” outlining the plot for “The Wild Robot” into 80 “plot lines, or brief chapters.