Author - Cartoonist Visit Middle School - News & Photos - McDonogh School

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Literary Guests Share Crafts With Middle Schoolers

A sample spread from Kevin Kallaugher's (KAL) graphic novel project featuring one of the main characters at the cave entrance.


Award-winning Canadian author Gordon Korman, best known for his young adult fiction books including Restart, The Unteachables, and Slacker was the first of two literary guests to recently visit the Middle School. On Tuesday, November 14, Korman, spent the day with middle schoolers and spoke about his latest book, Mixed Up. He also conducted writing workshops with fifth and sixth graders focusing on crafting ‘what if’ scenarios, creating compelling conflict, and finding a story’s resolution.

The following week, political cartoonist and past McDonogh parent Kevin Kallaugher (KAL) gave fifth and sixth graders a sneak peek at his exciting upcoming project—a graphic novel. From the stage in the Klein Lyceum, Kallaugher shared the preliminary drawings and storyline for his fantastic tale, with the working title Agents of the Quint—a middle school adventure story with a strong environmental focus.

As he spoke, students were drawn into his explanation of the creative process involved in the relatively new literary genre as well as the story itself. Kallaugher explained how he builds the characters, both human and nonhuman, giving them personalities and features that help tell the story and how each page is planned so readers will want to turn to the next. In sharing his tale about a group of middle schoolers from around the world, enrolled in a summer program on the Outer Banks, it was clear that Kallaugher had thought through every element.

The young audience was all in and asked Kallaugher pointed questions about the plot, protagonists, and the villains he described. The artist/author’s quick and convincing responses were entirely believable as he shared elements about the creatures of his imagination such as Trypp—a being that is equal parts scorpion, rhinoceros, and blue jay.

The one detail that Kallaugher admitted to be struggling with is the name of the school the students in his novel attend. He solicited suggestions from the audience who thought McDonogh Academy sounded good. They will have to wait a few more years however until Agents of the Quint hits the bookstore shelves to see if Kallaugher agrees.

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