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  • Fairbury News staff

Children's author visits Fairbury

Author/illustrator David Biedrzycki, left, and Carrie Small shown in the PC Elementary library.

Students of Prairie Central Elementary in Fairbury were among the first in the nation to catch a glimpse of the latest book from children’s author and illustrator David Biedrzycki.

A group of second graders sitting on the floor of the school library could be heard giggling and answering questions while listening to Biedrzycki’s entertaining presentation Tuesday morning.

They had a few questions of their own for the author, such as if he had thought of a chapter book, where he got the idea for a dragon story and if he could write something about snails.

Biedrzycki visited the local elementary students Tuesday thanks to a grant from Prairielands Foundation. Beidrzycki first visited the Prairie Central school district several years ago after meeting PCE library and media specialist Carrie Small.

Prior to COVID, Biedrzycki was visiting around 100 schools per year and now he is not doing quite as many visits. He finds his time at schools enjoyable as it helps give him inspiration for writing.

“If I didn’t have that interaction with students and find out what their interests are and what they like, I probably would not be able to write a book,” Biedrzycki admits.

Students are shown how stories are created and are encouraged to think outside the box. They also provide feedback on how Biedrzycki is doing.

“I find that pretty instrumental in creating my stories.”

All of Biedrzycki’s artwork is done digitally, either using an iPad or laptop computer. An app he uses to create the art produces a time-lapsed video which is shown to the students.

Though he has been visiting schools for over 20 years, there are still new books being released, such as Artificial Intelligence which is what Biedrzycki is working on currently.

“They are getting to see a story work in progress.”

Biedrzycki plans to send some copies of the book to the school when it is completed. He has created 33 books since he started in the mid-1990s and has written more than half of them. Another author wrote some but he illustrated each one.

The former commercial artist did advertising work prior to his career as an author and illustrator.

“Actually, you may have my artwork in your house and not even realize that I did it,” Biedrzycki said, referring to the labels on Mott’s applesauce and Tropicana products.

Small met Biedrzycki in 2016 when she attended an Illinois school librarian’s conference. His book had just won the Illinois State Monarch Award.

“I was in line to meet him and have him autograph our book,” Small recalled. “We had him come to our school the following year.”

The two have been friends ever since. Small considers Biedrzycki’s presentation very interactive which really gets kids thinking about the connection between words and pictures.

“I feel like he just really inspires kids,” notes Small.

Biedrzycki was born in Taylor, Pennsylvania in 1955 and attended Kutztown University. He started working as an illustrator in 1980 after graduating. He currently lives in Massachusetts.

PC Elementary students listen to author David Biedrzycki's presentation Tuesday morning.

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