Tonawanda News

The Town

March 28, 2013

'Eyes open, ears on'

TOWN OF TONAWANDA — It’s been a wild time this week at Lindbergh and Edison elementary schools in the Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda school district.

With owl hoots, wildlife photos and even a tape-recording of the sounds grumpy baby black bears make (they scream), author Stephen Swinburne visited students at Lindbergh on Tuesday and Edison on Wednesday, speaking about his books, his ideas and what it takes to be a writer.

While Swinburne fielded questions Tuesday from a group of kindergartners and first-graders in the Lindbergh auditorium — including how long it takes to write a book (months to years), what made him want to be an author (”I love kids, I love nature, I love words. And I wanted to put all those things together”) and how he eats while he’s writing (”I take a little break and go get some food”) — librarian Abbey Kwietniak said the students have been reading his books in the library while the teachers incorporate them into the classroom.

“Meeting the author allows them to put a face to the name they’ve been hearing about,” she said. “They’re excited. It’s not every day you get to meet an author.

“I hope it’s inspiring them to read and write. I just hope they’re inspired.”

A little later, Swinburne showed a group of first- and second-graders at the school the desktop of his computer, full of files and folders with ideas and research for new books, and a slideshow of photos from his life ... and often how it ties into his work.

“Where do we get our ideas?” he asked the students. “We get them from our lives ... and our imaginations, too.”

For example, the story behind a photograph of a birdhouse at his home — followed by photos of the resident birds, their eggs and later babies — came to be Swinburne’s first book, “Swallows in the Birdhouse.”

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