The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, March 29, 2002


Vermont children's book author visits Carlisle School

On Tuesday, March 19, Natalie Kinsey-Warnock, a well-known children's book author, spent much of the day at the Carlisle Public School. Sponsored by the Carlisle School Association's Cultural Enrichment Committee, Kinsey-Warnock first presented an assembly for grades one through three. The focus for her presentation was to tell how growing up on a dairy farm in Vermont, and living there as an adult, has been the basis of her children's books. She uses family stories, as in The Canada Geese Quilt based on her grandmother's quilting, as inspiration for her delightful and educational books. She and her husband share love of the Northeast Kingdom and delighted the students with tales of the animals she had "rescued" (six dogs, six cats and two ponies). Much of her talk had to do with enjoying nature, keeping fit, searching for stories in the land you live in and the family histories you may uncover ("Don't let the family stories die."), and her pleasure in standing outside on a hill playing her bagpipe as her Scottish ancestors did.
Carlisle School second grader Jacob Hoffman reads his short story with second grade teacher Mr.Darasz during a writer's workshop run by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock.

Details make a good story

After lunch she ran writing workshops for the second grades. With two of the four classes in each session, the setting was intimate and the students attentive. Kinsey-Warnock discussed how descriptive words, using the five senses (sight, hearing, touch, taste, smell), add to the sense of a story. She and the students then discussed hobbies and habits, and what things people liked to do. "Everybody has habits," she explained. The list they created together brought laughter since some personal habits could be rude in polite society.

Stories as varied as the writers

Having the complete attention of her audience, Kinsey-Warnock then presented a postcard photo of a boy with a bicycle. She walked around the room, letting each student have a close look. They then discussed the photo, which they agreed was taken in the past due to the black-and-white format, the dirt
Shane DiCristina reads his story to the class as author Natalie Kinsey-Warnock listens attentively. (Photo by Cynthia Sorn)
road on which the boy stood, and his old-fashioned bicycle. She then asked them to spend about fifteen minutes writing a short story based on the photo, reminding them of the fives senses, of habits, and of location. After the writing session, three students were asked to read their stories to the group. Jacob Hoffman wrote an exciting story about a boy named Giggle who defeats a witch; Vera Hanson shared a touching narrative about a boy who lived on a farm; and Shane DiCristina read a fast-paced story which ended hilariously at the poor boy's tombstone with a reminder to use the rest room when you can.

Compliments for second graders

At the end of the day Kinsey-Warnock remarked to enrichment committee member Deb Dawson that the second-grade teachers at the Carlisle School should be complimented on the quality of student writing she saw in the two workshops. She felt the complexity of ideas and use of language were some of the best she has seen in the numerous workshops she has given. Some parents of second graders had reported to Dawson that their kids came home enthusiastic about the presentation and workshops, and eager to research their family histories.

Prolific author

Kinsey-Warnock, who is currently working on over thirty books, has had at least one or more books published every year since 1990. She brought her current work-in-progress, From Dawn Till Dusk, A Vermont Farm Year, to illustrate the process of book publishing. She has two other books due in 2002: A Doctor Like Papa, and Lumber Camp Library. Her picture books include The Bear That Heard Crying, a true story based on a great-aunt's experience. A book for young adults, If Wishes Were Horses, was published this year.

2002 The Carlisle Mosquito