Children's author Peter Brown brings Roz, 'The Wild Robot' to visit O'Hara Elementary
Children's author Peter Brown, best-known for his characters' wacky escapades in “The Wild Robot” and other books for preteens, visited with O'Hara Elementary students May 4 and encouraged them to pursue their dreams.
He spoke of how his early love of art propelled him to produce what would become New York Times bestselling books.
“I get paid for drawing pictures of bears in tutus. That's my job,” Brown told about 800 students and adults at the Cabin Lane school.
He enthralled the youngsters with the tale of a young boy who liked to draw and grew up to earn a living by creating illustrations and stories.
Nearly all the students waved their hands or danced in their seats when asked if they liked to draw or write.
“It's an auditorium filled with artists and authors. You are my people,” Brown said.
He described his path during which he earned a Caldecott Honor, which recognizes the most distinguished American picture books for children.
At the end of the 45-minute presentation, kindergardeners through fifth-graders watched Brown outline and color the main character Roz from “The Wild Robot.”
The artist used a black marker to draw his robot, which in the book is stranded on an island.
A few green lines depicted Roz amidst tall evergreens under a brash pink sun.
In the sequel, “The Wild Robot Escapes,” Roz returns and works on a farm.
Brown said the books make an argument for kindness.
“The robot proves she is safe and friendly. The book shows logically a step-by-step process for being kind,” Brown said.
Many students appeared familiar with his illustrations from “Creepy Carrots,” “The Purple Kangaroo” and “Mr. Tiger Goes Wild.”
“I liked drawing things I'd see everyday in my life,” Brown said, adding that sometimes he embellished — like the time he drew his mother with six fingers.
The New Jersey native said he used learn-to-draw books and developed his talent by copying cartoons. Eventually he earned a bachelor's degree from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Calif.
A favorite class was children's literature, he said.
His “Wild Robot” books, aimed for 8- to 12-year-olds, grew from a thumbnail sketch made for an earlier book.
Brown wanted a survival/nature theme, and he enjoys science fiction.
Brown said it takes a year to write a picture book and more for a chapter book, but the most important step is patience.
He owns his unique perspective, evident in his books like “Creepy Pair of Underwear.”
“I never get tired of the disgusted sounds of children,” he told his audience.
While Brown was a reluctant reader who thought he read too slowly, he said art is a great way for youngsters to grow into the hobby.
For more, visit peterbrownstudio.com.
Sharon Drake is a freelance writer.