Authors visited area grade schools as part of the ``Adventures in Imagination'' series.
Children's author Lisa Campbell Ernst considers herself an ordinary person.
But to readers of her books, including ``When Bluebell Sang'' and ``Ginger Jumps,'' she's someone who sparks the imagination.
``When I was growing up I knew I loved art and I knew I loved reading, but never in a million years would I have said `I want to be an author,''' Ernst told a group of fourth-graders at Broken Arrow School. ``I had no idea that authors are regular people like me.''
Ernst and three other authors and illustrators, Vicki Grove, Ivy Ruckman and Brad Sneed, are visiting Lawrence schools this week as part of the award-winning Adventures in Imagination Partnership, involving the Lied Center, Mercantile Bank and the Lawrence public schools.
Ernst read her book, ``When Bluebell Sang,'' and explained to students the process of writing and illustrating a book.
``The cool thing about being an author is that you can write about anything you want,'' Ernst said. ``Ideas come from all around us.''
Ernst said she spends an average of nine months writing and illustrating a book before it's complete.
``After I spend so much time working on each book, they feel like family,'' she said.
Ernst answered questions from students and stayed after the presentation to sign a drawing for the school library.
The visiting authors wrap up a yearlong program of biography projects, author presentations and workshops as part of the Adventures in Imagination program, designed to encourage language arts in Lawrence schools.
The program is in its fourth year, and 1998 marks the third consecutive year nationally known authors have made the foray into Lawrence classrooms.
``Language arts is such a core to the district curriculum,'' library media coordinator Beth Welsh said. ``It's something integral to what we do, so we choose authors whose work we already study.''
The program emphasizes the importance of reading, Welsh said.
``The response from the kids is great,'' she said. ``After the author leaves it's obvious they've made a real connection.''
Ernst connected with fourth-grader Jane Turner.
Jane, who was not familiar with Ernst's work ahead of time, said she wanted to learn more about the Kansas City, Mo., writer.
``I liked hearing about `When Bluebell Sang,''' Jane said. ``I learned how to draw and illustrate.''
The visiting authors will be in Lawrence schools through Thursday and will sign books from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. today at Borders bookstore.
-- JL Watson's phone message number is 832-7145. Her e-mail address is email@example.com.