Bringing his stories to Prineville
For nearly 30 years, Oregon author Roland Smith has captivated young audiences with tales of travel, adventure and beasts real and mythological.
Now, he's visiting Prineville to inspire a new generation of writers and tale-tellers with a series of appearances at Crook County schools and Crook County Library.
The "Cryptid Hunters," "Ascent" and "I.Q." author will visit the high school, the middle school, and Barnes Butte and Crooked River elementary schools in Prineville during the school day on April 22 and 23. Smith will also appear at two evening programs at Crook County Library: one for teens only on Monday, and one for all ages on Tuesday. Both programs will run from 6 to 7 p.m.
Books will be provided for sale by Barnes & Noble during Smith's public appearances, and the author will be available after each event for photos and autographs.
Crook County Middle School librarian Kris Jones was inspired to bring authors to Crook County after the 2017 Association of School Librarians conference in Portland.
"As I observed a number of amazing author speakers at the event and listened to the opportunities many of our more urban neighbors have to see authors in person," said Jones, "I realized there was a significant need for this type of exposure in our community."
She pointed out that many kids in the community don't get to travel the I-5 corridor, where many authors frequent, so it was time to start bringing authors to them.
"Fortunately for me, our phenomenal Crook County Library Director Buzzy Nielsen was in attendance at the same conference. After a short visit, a dream was born and a mission was set in motion," Jones said.
She looked into bringing Smith to town after one of her students wouldn't stop talking about Roland Smith and kept checking out his novels. A fellow teacher pointed out that Smith lived in Oregon and that she should invite him to Crook County.
Jones went to work, and the pieces fell into place.
Funding for the visit came from the Crook County Cultural Coalition, the Friends of Crook County Library, Crook County School District, and a community donation.
"This came together as a really nice partnership to bring this author to the community," Jones said, noting that CCMS Principal Kurt Sloper has been flexible and supportive with the project.
Smith was born and raised in Portland, where he still lives with his wife. He is a storyteller, ex-zookeeper, world traveler and marine mammal rehabilitator. He helped save animals following the Exxon Valdez oil spill and wrote his first book about it, "Sea Otter Rescue." He writes young adult fiction as well as nonfiction books for children.
During his visits to local schools, he will talk about what it takes to be an author.
This Monday at 9 a.m., he will talk to students at Crook County High School, speaking in the auditorium about his writing experience and passion. Six classes of students from drama, English and Avid will attend.
He'll then head over to Barnes Butte Elementary for a talk to the 54 students who recently participated in Oregon Battle of the Books. He'll finish the day at Crooked River Elementary, talking to fifth-graders. That evening, he'll meet with teens at the Crook County Library.
The author will spend Tuesday at CCMS, first with sixth-graders, then with eighth-grade students, and finally with the seventh-graders. He'll tell the students a little about himself, what it takes to be an author, and talk about his books.
Jones is certain that having an author as well-known as Roland Smith visit their schools will get them excited about reading and give them some ideas for future careers.
"I'm grateful that we can put together the partnership and that everything came together so smoothly," Jones said. "I'm excited to see the future of this. Is this the beginning of something that we can expand on?"
Author Roland Smith
For teens: 6-7 p.m. Monday, April 22
All ages: 6-7 p.m. Tuesday, April 23
Crook County Library, 175 NW Meadow Lakes Drive