PIQUA — For this past week, students at Washington Primary School have been celebrating reading as part of their Right to Read Week, during which they not only accomplished their theme of “Fetch a Good Book,” but they also fetched an author on Friday.
Kristen Otte, who has authored a number of books including the pug-centered series “The Adventures of Zelda” and her new series “Alien Kid,” visited Washington Primary students Friday morning and afternoon, taking time to read to and speak with them.
Otte read from her series “The Adventures of Zelda,” which features an adventurous pug and was loosely inspired by her real-life pug, Zelda. She also shared photos and a video of her pug, including one with Zelda facing off against a vacuum cleaner and another in which Otte, her husband, Zelda, and their other dog, Peach, went canoeing together.
“I use real life, and then I kind of exaggerate,” Otte said while discussing how she comes up with material to write about for her books. She used inspiration from her dog Zelda’s life, such as her interactions chasing the vacuum cleaner, and then adds to it, including giving the fictional Zelda a reason why she attacks the vacuum cleaner. “I have to add the ‘why,’” Otte said.
On the canoeing trip with her husband and their dogs, Zelda fell into the water and her husband had to go and get the dog. In one of her books, Otte wrote about the fictional Zelda also falling into the water while on a canoe trip.
“There’s some basis in real life,” Otte said.
Over the course of five Zelda books with approximately 12 chapters in each, Otte has created over 60 Zelda stories, so she has gotten creative in coming up with different stories ideas about Zelda.
“You can start thinking about ‘what if’ stories,” Otte said. “What if Zelda what to become friends with a squirrel? What if Zelda got loose at an Easter egg hunt?”
The “what if” process also translated to her other book series for children, the “Alien Kid” series.
“What if an alien moved to Earth and started sixth grade?” Otte said. “The answer starts me on a story path.”
Otte also discussed her writing process and applied it to what the children are learning about their own language arts classes in relation to writing.
Otte starts with pre-writing — coming up with the story idea and the characters — before plotting the outline and writing the story. Then she goes through revisions, the editing process, and proofreading the story before she finishes a book.
“You guys do very similar things,” Otte said.
At the end of her visit, Otte answered a number of the students’ questions, including how she and her husband adopted their dog Peach as a rescue from a shelter, sharing that both Zelda and Peach are 8 years old, and divulging that Zelda got her name from the video game of the same name. Another student also asked Otte why she was an author.
“I like writing,” Otte said. “I like reading, and I like creating stories for kids.”
Otte’s visit was the first author visit at the new school.
“It’s cool. I think the kids really enjoy it,” April Vosler, librarian for the kindergarten and first grade students, said. “It’s fun to listen to them.”
“We got a grant to have our author visit,” Kris Stewart, librarian for the second and third grade students, said. “We’ve had the pleasure of using her books (in class).”
Stewart also noted how Otte was able to show students what was possible for them in terms of writing their own stories.
Otte, who currently lives in the Dayton area, said that she tried to make the material relevant to the students and she enjoyed encouraging the students to read. “I love doing author days,” she said.
For more information about Otte and her books, visit kristenotte.com.
Reach Sam Wildow at firstname.lastname@example.org or (937) 451-3336