Four West Virginia authors visit Wood County elementary schools , Sports, Jobs and Sentinel


Author and illustrator Ashley Belote, left, signs a copy of her book “Valenslime” for Emma Wilson, 7, and Michael Wilson, 4, at the Parkersburg and Wood County Public Library on Wednesday. Belote was part of a group of West Virginia authors who toured Wood County elementary schools. (Photo by Douglass Huxley)

PARKERSBURG — Four West Virginia authors made a special visit to some Wood County elementary schools Wednesday.

Diane Walker, Dreama Denver, Ashley Belote and Emerson Elementary fourth grade teacher Don Stansberry traveled to Madison, Jefferson, Criss, Emerson, Vienna, Neale, and Greenmont Elementary schools to talk to students about what being an author means.

Following their school visits, all four authors visited the Parkersburg and Wood County Public Library for a book signing and additional discussions.

Stansberry told Vienna Elementary students a story about his dog, George, when he was young. He told the students George smelled like caramel and that they used to play fetch with a red ball every day.

Stansberry said one day they were playing fetch when a group of coyotes appeared and tried to attack him. He said George sacrificed himself to save Stansberry that day. Stansberry said he cried himself to sleep that night but awoke the next morning to the smell of caramel. He said when he went downstairs he found George’s ball on the couch. He asked the students if they enjoyed hi story.

Author and illustrator Ashley Belote reads “Frankenslime” to students at Vienna Elementary School. Belote was part of a group of West Virginia authors who toured Wood County elementary schools Wednesday. (Photo by Douglass Huxley)

They replied they did.

“Guess what?” Stansberry asked. “I made it up! I never had a dog.”

Stansberry told the students that is what authors do. He said they use their imagination and creativity to create a story.

Belote, from Terra Alta, W.Va., talked to students about being an author and illustrator. She read a copy of “Frankenslime” and showed the students how to draw the slime monster from her story .

Walker talked to students about being Italian American and read a copy of her book “Hop and Trot”. It tells the story of friendship between a tortoise and a hare.

Don Stansberry, center, poses with Stella Fought, 10, and Mason Hill, 8, at the Parkersburg and Wood County Public Library on Wednesday. Stansberry is a fourth grade teacher at Emerson Elementary School and was part of a group of West Virginia authors who toured Wood County elementary schools. (Photo by Douglass Huxley)

Denver talked to students about her dreams to become an actress and later an author, and how those dreams came true. She told students to dream big, aim high, and nothing could stop them.

Vienna Elementary Principal Douglas Jones said he enjoyed having the authors and illustrators at the school and that the students enjoyed them, too.

“It’s encouraging to see that residents of West Virginia can do great things and produce works that are shared by students around the nation,” Jones said. “Our students love to read, and they really love to illustrate, so I think the fact that they can see West Virginians who do both writing and illustration was very exciting for them.”

Belote said her family owns Headline Books, a publisher in Terra Alta, and she grew up with a love for books. She said in second grade she decided she wanted to become an author and wrote to Barbara Park, author of the Junie B. Jones series, telling her how much she loved her books and that she wanted to be an author. Belote said Park wrote her an encouraging letter back and that the envelope came from Random House. She said she just got her first book released last year by Random House.

“It was a very special, very full circle type of moment,” Belote said. “So it’s just something that’s always been kind of ingrained in me, you know, the book business plus the pleasure of reading and making art. So it was kind of a natural progression.”

Author and illustrator Ashley Belote reads “Frankenslime” to students at Vienna Elementary School. Belote was part of a group of West Virginia authors who toured Wood County elementary schools Wednesday. (Photo by Douglass Huxley)

Belote said she really enjoys visiting schools and sharing her stories and illustrations with students. She said normally authors don’t get to see who buys their books and how they respond to them.

“In a school you get to share your work directly with these kids,” Belote said. “Because they can scream and laugh, and they can get scared. It’s just a very special relationship that you can have with them where you just bond in the moment of this story. So today the kids were great.”

Belote said her favorite moment of the day came when she was leaving Madison Elementary.

“I was walking through the hallway and a little girl was at the water fountain, and she was probably first or second grade, and she looked up at me and she goes, ‘You’re such a good artist.’ It was just so sweet that after the fact she thought enough of it to mention it to me,” Belote said. “It was really special. Moments like that, you can’t recreate that kind of moment, in any other type of situation.”

Douglass Huxley can be reached at dhuxley@newsandsentinel.com

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