Category Archives: Visiting Authors

Author Gennifer Choldenko Visits Hamlin

On Tuesday, The Hamlin School welcomed acclaimed children’s author Gennifer Choldenko.

Ms. Choldenko is best known for her Tales from Alcatraz series, which has sold more than 2 million copies. Book #1: Al Capone Does My Shirts was a Newbery Honor Book and the recipient of twenty other awards. Book #4: Al Capone Throws Me a Curve is due out in 2018. BookPage said of her most recent novel, Chasing Secrets: “Choldenko’s ability to research obscure yet intriguing topics is uncanny, and as she did with the popular Al Capone trilogy she turns a tough topic into a high interest read … a compelling work of historical fiction.” Gennifer lives with her loyal husband and naughty dog in the San Francisco Bay Area. 

Ms. Choldenko shared her passion for writing historical fiction. After facing several years of having books rejected by publishers, she came up with the idea of writing about kids who lived on Alcatraz. She spoke about the importance of doing extensive research to really learn about a subject. She interviewed former guards, their children, and even former prisoners, to acquire detailed information. During her entertaining presentation she covered a wide range of Alcatraz-related topics ranging from how much money Al Capone spent on silk underwear, to the special rules of convict baseball.

Ms. Choldenko also shared her four favorite writing tips with our girls. They are:

1. Fill your head with information (research and learn as much as you can before writing)

2. Write your ideas down (even if they come at strange times)

3. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes (they happen)

4. Give yourself a new chance every day


Drew Daywalt and Scott Campbell Visit Hamlin

On Tuesday, Drew Daywalt and Scott Campbell spoke with lower school students.

Drew Daywalt is an award-winning, #1 New York Times bestselling children’s author whose books include The Day the Crayons Quit, The Day the Crayons Came Home, and The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors.

Scott Campbell creates paintings, illustrations, comics, kid’s books and video games. He has published numerous comics and created paintings that have appeared in galleries and publications around the world.

Mr. Daywalt and Mr. Campbell shared a humor-filled presentation and talked about their creative process. When developing the character Sleepy (from Sleepy, the Goodnight Buddy), the two spoke on the phone, discussing various ideas for the illustration. Mr. Campbell then sketched 40-50 different versions of Sleepy before coming up with the final depiction. On the writing side, Mr. Daywalt spent a month editing the story until he was very happy with the narrative. Mr. Daywalt also shared that the main character in Sleepy was modeled after his 9-year old son.

The two men read Sleepy to the girls and demonstrated how to do a couple of drawings from the book. The assembly was a tremendous hit, our students were cheering and very excited to get a behind the scenes look at how books are created.

To learn more about Mr. Daywalt and Mr. Campbell, please visit: and