Arts Curriculum launch in New York City!


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It Jes’ Happened editor, Louise May; R. Gregory Christie; Kelly McConnell; Don Tate; Kirsten Cappy

This weekend, I debuted my new arts curriculum for It Jes’ Happened: When Bill Traylor Started to Draw in New York city. We held the event at the American Folk Art Museum on the last day of the Bill Traylor exhibit.

Kirsten Cappy and Kelly McConnell demonstrate pictograph activity
Kirsten Cappy and Kelly McConnell demonstrate pictograph activity

The amazing curriculum was a collaboration between Kirsten Cappy of Curious City, and artist and art educator, Kelly McConnell. First off, children toured the Traylor exhibit, observing how the artist used art to tell the story of his life. Then, following a brief reading and talk given by illustrator R. Gregory Christie and myself, children created pictograph journals telling stories of their own lives. The kids were deeply engaged in the activities, and I was so thankful to parents for bringing them out on a busy Saturday. Click here for a free download of the Arts Curriculum.

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On Friday morning, the day before, I spoke at the Brooklyn Public Library. I spoke to a group of about 150 2nd- and 3rd-graders. Thank you to Ms. Paquita Campoverde for organizing the wonderful event. I was invited back to speak at Brooklyn schools, and I can’t wait to return.


My 12-year-old son accompanied me to New York. Between events, we took in the sights of the city. We walked more than 20 blocks from our hotel to see The Empire State Building (we were too chicken to take a ride to the top). We rode a ferry to Staten Island, which offered a nice view of the Statue of Liberty. We visited Times Square and Central Park, and navigated the subway system like pros . . . well, not so pro-like. We got lost. But we had so much fun finding our way.

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It Jes’ Happened has been published for well over a year now. In some ways, this event felt like the end of a journey. However, an end it is not. Lee & Low books do not go out of print, and this Art Curriculum will go along way in keeping the book alive in classrooms and museums.

A special thank you to Kirsten Cappy of Curious City who designed my new website for It Jes’ Happened, and who put this event together flawlessly. Also thank you to the staff of the American Folk Art Museum!