MEXICO — A well-known Maine author and illustrator taught nearly 300 students the basics of his drawing craft during an assembly Thursday morning at Meroby Elementary School.

Kevin Hawkes stunned and wowed the prekindergarten through fifth-grade students when he drew four lines and a dot while using pastels and a document camera that simultaneously projected the image onto a large movie screen.

He had two students draw one line apiece on a clean sheet of paper and asked a third student to add texture in a color to one side of the drawing. Afterward, a fourth student added color to the opposite side. The resulting image resembled a road or shoreline between water and grass.

Excitement grew as children watched Hawkes transform that image into one of a shark with its jaws wide open and about to gobble down a smaller fish.

“I can talk to you guys all day long about what you saw up there, but the important thing is that what began as a line then turned into an idea for a drawing,” Hawkes said.

“But you know what?” he asked. “It’s changed already. It’s not a drawing anymore, it’s a story. Any time you put two characters together on a page, you have a story. Those two lines and that texture led us to a story about a fish, and that sometimes is how I get ideas for a story.”


Hawkes used the document camera to project pages from his books onto the big screen and had the students and teachers rollicking on their benches while using his overly accentuated Maine accent to explain stories and their accompanying illustrations he’d created.

It was his first time at the Regional School Unit 10 school. School literacy coach Eileen Pew and library media specialist Barbara Hammond said Hawkes was participating in Meroby’s visiting author program.

For the past month, teachers have been using books written and/or illustrated by Hawkes in their curriculum while blending art and literacy to familiarize students with his works.

“So there is a lot of exposure to his books and there are particular favorites,” Hammond said.

“A big piece of (having Hawkes here) is the excitement of literacy and the integration of the art and literacy,” Pew said. “What’s interesting — I was just reading a part of his bio — is he’s gotten a lot of his ideas through his own experiences.”

As part of his career as an author and illustrator, Hawkes said he is often invited to visit schools to help teach children literacy and art at their level. Normally, he does smaller sessions with groups instead of presentations at large school assemblies, Hawkes said.


“Normally, I just take smaller groups of a classroom or two at a time and talk to them about writing and illustration, and introduce them to my books,” he said.

“My books are picture books so they’re aimed at that crowd at the first through third grade,” Hawkes said. “I’m also an artist and I love to draw and to write and I’m working on some chapter books now, so I connect really well with the fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders. I kind of do the whole range.”

Hawkes has five children and has been illustrating and writing books for 27 years. He said he enjoys sharing his knowledge with childen, especially in smaller groups.

“We will talk about how a book is made, sort of that process, and I talk about how I get ideas for pictures, and ideas for improving their drawings, and then I talk about getting story ideas for books,” he said.

Hawkes spoke to his celebrity status with children, a few of whom hugged him following the presentation as they filed past a long row of his books, some excitedly pointing out ones they own.

“Librarians know me,” he said, laughing. “That’s my crowd. I never get stopped in grocery stores. Authors and writers and illustrators, you might know of their books, but you won’t know of them.”


Principal Melanie Chasse spoke to the importance of having an author and illustrator of Hawkes’ caliber come to Meroby to share his trade.

“We’re an elementary school so we don’t get much better at actually having a published author to talk about what it is to be an author from their perspective,” Chasse said.

“When we teach writing, we teach kids that they are writers,” Pew said. “And we teach them the craft through the published writers’ craft. We look at somebody like Kevin Hawkes. We look at what he can do as a writer and an illustrator, which the children try to imitate as close as they can get to that craft, so that’s how they get the sense that they are writers as well.”

“These kids write all the time, but it’s not about authenticity,” Chasse said. “So this is an authentic, published, famous writer and illustrator. He’s no Stephen King, yet.”

“But, it’s very important to have somebody like Kevin come and see us every year,” Pew added.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.