More than 100 parents, children and others packed Adams Junior High on Wednesday night to take a "walk with Gail Gibbons."
In celebration of the K-6 Young Authors Conference, the Sandusky Academic Booster Club -- with Title I Funding -- bought more than 140 Gail Gibbons non-fiction children's books and invited the author-illustrator to the event.
"One hundred and forty books will be put in the hands of students that will cost nothing to them," school board vice president Faith Denslow said.
In addition to signing all 140 books, Gibbons created several marker drawings, autographed posters of her book covers and signed fliers announcing her presentation to give to each young author.
"You guys are so lucky to have a school district that has a young authors' conference," she said. "Many places don't have it, or you have to be older to do the books."
Gibbons said she started doodling when she was 4 years old and put together her first picture book.
At age 63, she has penned and illustrated 149 books.
"My friends ask me when I'm going to retire," she said, laughing. "I say why? What's the point if you don't enjoy it?"
Ontario second-grader David Seyler volunteered to help Gibbons depict her version of Van Gogh's Starry Night and asked her an important question afterward.
"Is it fun writing a book?" he asked.
"If I didn't think it was fun I wouldn't do it," she said.
Children were eager to tell Gibbons stories about "king cobras" and "pythons" they had found in their backyard and ask questions about her passion.
"What inspired you to write and illustrate your first book?" Venice fourth-grader Danielle Cook asked.
"When I was excited about something, the way I expressed my excitement was to illustrate or write about it," Gibbons said. "To me, putting a non-fiction book together is like watching the pieces of a puzzle finally fitting. Bit by bit the book takes form."
By the close of her presentation, many children were wiggling in their parents laps, asking, "Can we see the books yet?" and saying, "I want to show her the book I wrote."
Drawing random names from a cardboard box, booster club president Rosanne Poeschl announced winners who eagerly went onstage to receive signed books and posters.
Children eagerly claimed their treasures and ran back to parents with smiles.
When Poeschl invited everyone to the cafeteria to take a look at the student creations, they ran.
Crowded in the cafeteria, parents looked over their children's shoulders and wandered around reading titles and flipping through pages.
"Look at mine," Hancock second-grader Tyrese Edwards said, holding up his typed and hand-drawn creation. "It's about Kalahari. It's really fun to go there."
Parents said they were shocked by the large turnout and hoped the interest by local adults would inspire the children.
"All it takes is for one person to believe in a child," parent Erin Martin said. "So many people showed up today. It's really encouraging to the children who look up to us adults to determine what's important. Being here shows them their creative skills are important."