Elementary School students at the International School of Beijing (ISB) were excited to meet and draw with author and illustrator Matt Holm on August 28 and 29. Mr. Holm and his sister Jennifer co-author comic-inspired books; including the Babymouse series and Squish series.
Mr. Holm's visit supported language arts instruction in the Elementary School; reinforcing the theme of writing for a purpose. He presented at assemblies to all students in grades 3-5, and he worked with individual classes on writing, illustrating, and producing graphic novels. The Holms' books are incredibly popular with ISB students, and his inputs provided rich inspiration for their imaginations.
"I think that one of the best things about comics is that they are deceptively simple," Mr. Holm said. "Most kids feel like they could attempt to draw one, and that pulls them into storytelling." Mr. Holm told us he most enjoys creating original characters with students: guiding them through the choices necessary to define a character visually. "They only have a few square inches within a panel; there's not a lot of bandwidth to get information across," he said. "It's exciting to see their thought process and understanding evolve. Every time the end-result is completely different."
Mr. Holm informed us that his career today is rooted in his childhood. As the youngest of five children he inherited 20 years of comics from his older siblings. Growing up surrounded by comics and graphic novels, he became a prolific cartoonist himself. "In sharing with the students how we got started and what inspired us as kids, I wanted to stress that our characters didn't look perfect from the beginning," he said. "It took time and effort for them to improve." His message of pursuing personal passion and progressive self-improvement resonates with ISB's commitment to encourage critical qualities for student success, such as creativity and personal integrity.