Multiple literary award winner and nominee, Julie Berry, recently stopped into the Medina Middle School and High School to give several workshops and talk about her craft.
Mrs. Berry, a native of Medina and a graduate from the school district, has written over 20 book and has received many accolades for her work in young adult fiction and children's literature. In June of this year, she released her newest book, "The Emperor's Ostrich" which is geared towards children eight to twelve years of age. She ended her day with a book signing at the Lee Whedon Library.
At the Middle School, Mrs. Berry presented two types of workshops. "One was inspirational about her life growing up in Medina and how thankful she was for the opportunity to go to school here with so many wonderful teachers," said 7th grade teacher Melinda Hill. "The second presentation was a writing workshop where Julie led the students through the type if decision-making she goes through when creating a story. She worked on a large board at the front of the room and students came up with their own ideas. They created a character, who wants something they can't have, enemies and friends of the character and then plotted out how the character can journey to achieve their goal. My students showed they thouroughly enjoyed the writing workshop by bringing wonderful ideas back to class that they were proud to share with me and others."
High School English teacher, Karen Jones, was a classmate of Mrs. Berry's and has been reading Mrs. Berry's "All the Truth That's In Me" with her classes for the past three years. Publisher's Weekly calls it, "Suspenseful and haunting." It has also been optioned to become a movie. "Thematically it is very similar to both 'The Scarlet Letter' and 'The Crucible'. It is unusual since it is written in the second person. That is the reason that drew me to it. This was a writing challenge to herself. I love it for seniors because it leads into our understanding of a deeper symbolism like architype theory and it offers so many parallels to classic literature. One of their challenges as a senior is that they have to choose a book from our classic literature canon. Some of that literature can be really intimidating, so this could be their window in to talk about themes like sacrifice, love, betrayal, societal norms, and repression. We can talk about this all sorts of stuff and this is our entry point. I think it builds their confidence with tackling much harder literature. The fact that Julie graduated from Medina shows them this is what an author looks like. This is what you can grow up to be. That is encouraging, even to someone like me, a teacher, who has hopes of being an author. I want them to think, maybe I can do that too, no matter what I do."
The seniors had many questions to ask her about her process, what inspires her stories and what advice she would give anyone who wanted to be an author. "She is just so energizing and encouraging," says Mrs. Jones. "She comes all the way from Los Angeles to talk to the students and it means so much to all of us." The dedication to her new book says it all, "To the thousands of children who brainstormed with me in creative writing workshops. To answer the question you frequently ask me; yes, this is really how I write a story. This one is for you."