“I thought having Mr. Buettner speak to our older students would be a fun way to dive into literacy in a non-forced, less structured way,” Abou-Afia said.
Buettner is from Fort Wayne, Indiana, about a two-hour drive, and was willing to visit Andrew J. Brown Academy in Indianapolis. He spoke to fifth through eighth-grade groups separately about his journey from being a young student with academic and behavior issues to a published author.
“Students had a great time learning about Buettner’s writing process, internal motivation to create stories to share with others, and how to persist in the face of rejection,” Abou-Afia said. “Mr. Buettner brought his notebook full of rejection letters. He wanted students to know it’s hard work, but worth it to persevere.
“Students were interested to learn how much he makes writing books. They were surprised to hear that it’s not enough to support his family and that he usually has a ‘day job’ too!”
The school purchased seven sets of his four books in the kids’ series for every fifth through eighth-grade classroom. These books are: “Monster Pets Book 1: Dracula’s Cat,” “Monster Pets Book 2: Alien’s Slime,” “Monster Pets Book 3: Headless Halloween,” and “Monster Pets Book 4: Zoocreepers.” The books are about a paranormal pet sitting adventure. Desperate to earn the money to go to camp, Mina takes a job pet sitting for the residents of the super spooky monster neighborhood.
AJB expects to host Buettner again, when the students have had the opportunity to read more of his book series. His next visit may be more focused as a writer’s workshop where students who are really interested in learning more specific details about writing can sign up.
“I do have some inspired writers who asked Mr. Buettner if he would read their work and give some feedback,” Abou-Afia said. “So, I will be the go-between in getting him some students’ work.”
Gary Buettner (Bit-ner) has been writing spooky stories since junior high but has been making up his own superheroes and stories since he was a little kid. He even won a 10-speed bike by making up his own superhero for a contest on the back of a cereal box.
He studied creative writing at Indiana University, where he won a couple awards for his stories.
“I love everything about Halloween and sometimes I like to make stuffed toy monsters,” Buettner said. “When I was thinking about new monsters to make, I drew a picture of Frankenstein’s goldfish. Before I had a chance to sew it, I started wondering who would take care of such a crazy fish, and the idea of a paranormal pet sitter was born.”
Check out a school near you!