Guest post written by Kid Beowulf author Lex Fajardo
This past September, I was invited to participate in San Francisco’s premiere literary festival, LitQuake—more specifically, the kid version of it, called “KidQuake!” KidQuake is a great part of the program that connects professional authors with young readers to get them interested in writing and storytelling and perhaps inspire some of them to try it themselves. I was joined by two other Bay Area kid-lit authors: Mae Respicio, author of “The House That Lou Built” (Wendy Lamb Books), and Jill Diamond, author of the “Lou Lou & Pea” series (FSG). Each of us took turns talking to a packed room of kids and their teachers at the San Francisco Public Library.
Left to Right: Lex Fajardo, Jill Diamond, Mae Respicio
I love getting the chance to share Kid Beowulf with young readers, especially at schools and venues like KidQuake. Oftentimes these readers are seeing my work for the first time, and though they might be familiar with Greek Mythology and other legends they’ve read in school, many of them have never heard of “Beowulf,” so it gives me a fun opportunity to tell them about the original story, how it connects to other heroes they might be familiar with, and how I adapted it into a graphic novel.
My favorite part is re-enacting the original story of “Beowulf” and watching the kids’ eyes go wide as I tell them how Beowulf defeated the man-eating monster named Grendel, later defeating the Sea-hag, and finally confronting the dreaded dragon! Later, when I show them my version of those characters they get even more excited to see how I reimagined them as comic characters and see a new story unfold. After I share the origins of the story with them, I like to walk them through the stages of how I make a comic, so if there are any young artists in the crowd, they’ll understand the different parts of writing a script, penciling a page, inking it, and getting it colored.
The kids at KidQuake were a terrific audience, after the presentation I got to chat with them one-on-one and sketch for them too and at the end of the day we both walked away inspired to tell more stories.