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Best-selling author visits school

By Staff | Apr 21, 2009

Gulf Middle School was visited for the second time by a national best-selling author Monday when Roland Smith made an appearance and discussed his writing process.
He gave presentations to each grade level at the school and signed more than 800 copies of his books.
The school chose Smith’s 2009 “Elephant Run” for its “one school, one book program.” The story follows a character named Nick Freestone who decides to move from London to Burma during World War II. It earned the 2009 ALA Best Books for Young Adults.
During the student presentations Smith described his life through a series of book-related anecdotes.
“When I write a book, I write about what is important to me,” he said.
Smith has worked at the zoo in Portland, Ore., assisted in cleaning Prince William Sound after the Exxon Valdez oil spill and helped rescue the nearly extinct red wolf. Many of these experiences were later incorporated into his books, he said.
It took Smith 10 years and four drafts to finish “Elephant Run.” He explained that elephants are his favorite animal and, as a result, he has been an advocate against ivory poaching.
Near the end of the presentation he encouraged students who are interested in writing to start now and to utilize the library as their source of information. He also stressed the important of revision in the writing process.
“It takes twice as long to do research than write the book,” said Smith. “Everything you need to know is down the hall in your library.”
Polly Robinson, reading coach at Gulf Middle, said the entire school, including students, teachers and administrators, chose to read “Elephant Run.” The students also followed a three-week specialized curriculum to coincide with the book.
“The most important thing is that the kids enjoyed reading the book,” she said. “It was a huge success, more than I thought it would be.”
Robinson said the school is in the process of choosing another book for next year’s program.
“We are looking at books for next year and we hope to do it again,” she said. “I had so many kids come up to me and say they loved the book.”
Smith has written more than 20 books designed for readers in middle and high school.
For more information on Roland Smith and his collection of books, visit the Web site online at: www.rolandsmith. com.