I recently met a young reader who was super-duper inspiring to me, and I’d love for you to meet him too.
His name is Declan. This is what he looked like the evening we met:Declan is an author and illustrator. He’s very talented. But he’s many other things too. He’s a gentleman, a son, a dog owner, a friend, a student of many things, an explorer, a mover across the ocean, a holder of hands, a construction site watcher, a footballer (soccer), a Lego lover,and a reader of many books. He can read just about anything!
And he can write and illustrate like nobody’s business.
This is his first book: This is Declan giving me a special reading, just for me and his mom and dad: It was such a special treat.
And this is Declan reading for you, so that you could see the inside of his book too:
First reading: http://youtu.be/Skzf_k9_PL0
Second reading (without the ad-libbing, at Mom’s request): http://youtu.be/Ujwup7dlYm8
I just love that. I love the way his book changes and grows as he reads it. I love his exuberance. I love his strong narrative voice. And I love that there’s a back story that can hardly be contained and slips out here and there like a mischievous little monkey slipping out of a cage.
But I’m really jealous of all the great names he used.
And even more jealous that he’s such a good drawer of pictures.
And super-duper jealous that new ideas come tumbling out of him as fast as he can read.
When you’re an author, it’s SO easy to be jealous of other authors, just like that.
Here he is fast at work on his next project, right after his reading:When you’re an author, you can’t let readings and adoring fans (or jealous ones) distract from the real work of being an author.
Did you notice that his book is made from recycled paper? He’s an environmentally friendly publisher to boot!
Declan used to live in Beaverton, Oregon, until his mom, the librarian, Debbie Alvarez, got a job in Hong Kong. Then he and his dad, Doug, his mom, and their dog, Dulcie, packed their things and flew across the ocean to begin a new adventure.It was Declan’s first trip overseas, but not Batman’s. So it was helpful to have the Caped Crusader along.
But have you ever seen Batman do this?Or this?Declan’s got the Caped Crusader beat, hands down. And he’s only wearing a hoodie! Go Hoodie Hero!
I was in total awe (and maybe jealous too) of Declan’s confidence and adaptability, so I had lots of questions to ask him about his new life and how he made the transition to a foreign country. Here’s what he had to say (via email, as told to his mom):
L: What does it take to make such a transition go smoothly?
Declan: When we moved, it went ok because I could still sleep really well. Also, I brought toys from home that made it easier to move. Helped to have our dog Dulcie with us too.
L: What do you like most/least about living in HK?
Declan: I like most about Hong Kong: going to movies with family – 3D especially, The Hobbit especially. And going on family trips to new places like Thailand and Vietnam. Here are favorite parts: getting to ride an elephant, motorbike, tuk-tuk, see monkeys while kayaking, seeing a water buffalo in action, and explore caves was quite cool.
I least like about HK: lot of pollution – talked about visibility seeing around Hong Kong and how pollution limits visibility around HK…
I miss our old house and family and friends in Oregon, but we are going to visit soon.
L: Are you in Chinese class? Is it hard or easy to learn a new language?
Declan: Yes, I’m taking Mandarin – it is easy to learn a new language NOW. But it was really hard at the beginning because on my first day I hardly knew anything. I also took Spanish in school before.
I also asked him what some of his favorites were, and here they are:
Declan’s favorite food is “PIZZA, cheese only.”
His favorite color is red — “because it is the color of fire and I use it a lot in my drawings and it is at the top of the rainbow.”
His favorite book is the Beast Quest series —
“I am at book 25, I read them with my dad- sometimes I read aloud a part to him, mostly he reads aloud to me; Harry Potter series; Alvin Ho audiobook; Spiderwick Series- mom and I are on the last book in the whole series- Beyond the Spiderwick – The Wyrm King.”
His favorite hobbies are football (soccer); legos; draw pictures- “I’ve run out of paper since I love drawing so much.”
He also likes “having alone time once in a while- at school and home; writing down ideas… Watching the construction out our family room window…”
Declan is enjoying trying out football and karate, plus learning netball at school was fun. He got into the finals in his class tournament!
Here he is with his dad, just before heading out to football practice:
His dad is a good taker-of-people-to-where-they-need-to-go. He took me to Declan’s school the morning I needed to be there. He’s about 10-feet tall and can make you feel safe even while going in the wrong direction. Thank you, Doug!
And thank you, Declan, for being such an inspiration!!! You ROCK!