RUMFORD — Creativity was the operative word at Literacy Night with author and illustrator Joshua Alves at Rumford Elementary School on Monday evening.

Alves, a former graphic designer and creative services manager with the Bangor Daily News, said he began drawing comic strips for the newspaper in 2004 and over time began publishing books written and illustrated under his name. They include “Lilly Bristol: Dinosaur Wrangler.”

“I think creativity is 85 percent a learned skill, and the other 15 percent is innate,” Alves told students, parents and teachers. “We all have the capacity to be creative.”

As an example, Alves split the audience into three groups. He asked the first group to start snapping their fingers. After three seconds, he asked the second group to start snapping their fingers, followed by the third group.

After a few moments, he told the first group to start slapping their legs.

He continued alternating between snapping fingers, slapping legs, and stomping feet, and asked the audience, “What do you guys think that sounded like?”

A few kids piped up, “Rain?”

Alves grinned and said, “Exactly! To some people, it probably sounded like rain smacking against the window. To others, it probably sounded like people smacking their legs with their hands and stomping their feet. It’s all about being creative and seeing and hearing things in different ways.”

He read from an interactive story called, “Surprise!” and asked the students for topics or themes for him to draw.

Some students tossed out “Thanksgiving,” “Christmas,” and “Halloween,” while other students suggested “goth mermaids,” or “bicycle-riding ninjas.”

At one point, Alves took the suggestions “taco ninja,” “baseball player,” “mustache,” “cow,” “a waffle eating breakfast,” and “a banana-wielding Sith Lord” from the Star Wars movie series, and combined them into an impromptu drawing.

Alves urged students to remain creative and pursue their interests.

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