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4-21-18 — Graphic Novel Author Inspires Central Elementary Students to Write

April 21, 2018 ~ Students at Central Elementary received a special visit from author-illustrator James Burks in late March. Burks not only has written and illustrated several graphic novels for children but has worked on animated movies such as “The Emperor’s New Groove,” “Space Jam” and “The Iron Giant.”

Kim Curry, reading specialist at Central, found that Burks’ graphic novels helped inspire reluctant readers at the school and helped them to become better readers after being engaged. Curry received a grant from the Olathe Public Schools Foundation which paid for the visit.

“Our school community is so grateful to the Olathe Public Schools Foundation and their willingness to support our dream of creating a passion for reading through this author visit,” said Central Principal Dana Hinds.

During an assembly, Burks spoke to students about his artistic journey from drawing as a child to working in animation and writing and illustrating books. Burks drew several of his fan-favorite characters from his graphic novels and took audience suggestion for new characters. Students were able to preview the cover art and storyboards for his next book, which students are excited for.

Later that evening Burks hosted a meet and greet where students and community members could visit and receive autographs.

“The author visit was incredibly inspirational for our students,” said Hinds. “They were shaking the hand of the author and illustrator of the books they’ve grown to love. Every student wanted to hurry back to class and begin creating their own stories and sketches.”